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Full text of "Harris County, 1822-1845"

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HARRIS COUNTY, 1822-1845 



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HOUSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY 

HOUSTON, TEXAS 
GIFT OF 







HAREIS COUNTY, 1822-1845 1 

ADELE B. LOOSC AN 

I. First Settlers 

It is difficult to trace the first white settlers in a country in- 
habited only by Indians of nomadic habits, such as frequented 
the shores of Texas. In most cases the first settlers are of habits 
similar to those of wandering tribes, and after a brief stay, move 
on to more inviting localities. It is only after they have beguii 
to arrive in considerable numbers, and land titles are issued t$?| 
them, that accurate data are obtainable as to their names, number 
and location. 

In the case of Harris County we know only that when the first 

H am indebted to the following sources for the material of this his- 
tory: Original letters and business papers of the family of John R. Har- 
ris, of Lewis Birdsall, and of Andrew Briscoe; records of county court, 
probate and commissioners courts, and district court of Harris county; 
The Gazette, published at San Felipe de Austin, October, 1829. by Good- 
win Brown Cotton; The Telegraph and Texas Register (Houston), 1838- 
1856 (incomplete) ; The Morning Star (Houston), volumes 1 to 6, April 
8, 1839, to October 26, 1844; '"Extracts from an Historical sketch of 
Harris County," by C. Anson Jones, in Burke's Texas Almanac, 1879, 
taken from an address read by him at the centennial celebration held at 
the State Fair Grounds, in Houston, July 4, 1876, "A Manuscript His- 
tory of the Early Settlement of Harris County," by Mrs. Mary J. Briscoe 
( only daughter of John R. Harris ) , written by her for the Ladies' Read- 
ing Club of Houston in 1885; The Morning Star, H. D. Fitch, editor, 
Houston, March 4, 1840; Letters from A. B. Dodson of Alice, Texas, 
Texas Almanac, 1858, pp. 115-116, and 1859, pp. 36-59, From Virginia 
to Texas (1835), being a diary of Colonel Wm. F. Gray, published by 
A. C. Gray in 1909; Six Decades in Texas, by F. R. Lubbock, "Troubles 
of a Mexican Revenue Officer," by Eugene C. Barker, in The Quarterly, 
IV, 190-202; "Reminiscences of Mrs. Dilue Harris." Ibid., IV, 85-127, 
155-189, VII, 214-222; "The first Texas Railroad," by P. Briscoe, Ibid., 
279-286; Year Book for Texas - ( 1901) , by . C. W. Raines; biographical 
sketches by John Henry Brown, in his Indian Wars and Texas Pioneers; 
biographical sketches of citizens of Houston and Galveston in History of 
Texas, published by Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1895. "A Tale 
of two Texas towns" (Anahuac and Harrisburg), by Adele B. Looscan, 
Galveston News, September 6, 1903. "History of The Texas Press," by 
A. C. Gray, in A Comprehensive History of Texas, II, 368-423, and copies 
of papers filed in court in the succession of John R. Harris, the final set- 
tlement of the business having been effected by Judge Andrew Briscoe. 
The "Extracts from an Historical Sketch of Harris County," were, so 
far as statements about early settlers are concerned, chiefly obtained 
from John Iiams (son of the first settler), and members of other families 
who arrived at an early period. 



2 Harris County, 1822-1 8 %5 

colonists from the United States came to its shores at the invita- 
tion of the empresario, Stephen F. Austin, they found a few set- 
tlements already established on the shores of Galveston Bay and 
the streams emptying into it. The names of some of these settlers 
have been handed down by unofficial writers in newspapers, a few 
from the recollections of their contemporaries. 

The year 1822 seems to have been the earliest period claimed 
for any settlements, and it is more than probable that the rumor 
of Austin's colonization scheme caused them to be made. A few 
settlers may have come overland from Louisiana., but those of 
whom record is here made, arrived on shipboard, and were in some 
instances tossed ashore when their frail boats were wrecked by 
storms on the reefs and bars of the bay. Numbered among these 
were Moses L. Choate and Colonel Pettus, on board the Re- 
venge, which was wrecked on Red Fish Bar, in April, 1822. 
Their schooner, commanded by Captain Shires, ran aground, and 
the passengers left the vessel and went up the San Jacinto River, 
where they made homes, probably the first settlements on this river, 
or in Harris County. Only the names of the two mentioned here 
have been preserved. There was also a Mr. .Ryder, who in 1822 
lived alone at the extreme end of Morgan's Point. He was a sur- 
veyor. Beyond this nothing has been handed down regarding him. 

John Iiams is the next of whom we have record. Embarking 
at Berwick's Bay, Louisiana, with his family, consisting of a wife 
and two boys, he landed at Galveston Island on June 3, 1822. He 
settled on the main land of Galveston Bay, at what was known as 
Cedar Point, where a, league of land was afterwards granted him 
by S. F. Austin. 

In about two weeks after Iiams and his family arrived, Dr. John- 
son Hunter came, with his family. Their advent was attended by 
dangers and hardships such as were experienced by few. Their 
vessel was wrecked on Galveston Island; there were five children, 
one, William, an infant in arms. After repairing the boat, they 
succeeded in reaching the mainland, afterwards called Morgan's 
Point, where they first made their home, and where Johnson 
Hunter located one of the original land grants from the Mexican 
Government. 

Nathaniel Lynch came and settled at the point where Buffalo 
Bavou flows into the San Jacinto River. This was also in the 



Harris County, 1822-18^5 3 

year 1822. The settlement which grew up around him was called 
Lynchburg, and the ferry there established was of great service 
to early settlers, and was long known as Lynch's Ferry. At about 
the same time John D. Taylor settled on the north side of the 
San Jacinto River, at a point afterwards known as Midway. 

Other settlements on the same river at about this time were 
made by John Jones, who came out in the same vessel with Iiams. 

Humphrey Jackson, John and Frederick H. Rankin also settled 
about twelve miles above Lynches. The only settlers on Buffalo 
Bayou previous to 1824, so far as known, were the Vinces — Wil- 
liam, Allen, Robert, Richard and John, — all yemng men, Ezekiel 
Thomas, and Moses A. Callahan. 

Tt is said that the earliest settlement in the immediate neigh- 
borhood of what afterwards became the City of Houston was made 
in 1822, by a Mrs. Wilkin, her two daughters, and a son-in-law, 
Dr. Phelps. They lived for a short time on a tract of land that 
was afterward known to the early citizens of Houston as Frost- 
town. 

These settlements were made independently of any colonial grant, 
as Austin had not at that time perfected his arrangements with 
the Government for colonizing. So soon as this was done, most of 
these early settlers received, at the hands' of his representative, 
grants for the land occupied by them, and their names were offi- 
cially entered on the records of Austin's colony. 

In 1824, Stephen F. Austin accompanied by his secretary, Sam 
M. Williams, and the Commissioner, Baron de Bastrop, came by 
appointment to the house of William Scott, who a short time be- 
fore had bought out the improvements of John D. Taylor on the 
San Jacinto River. The settlers assembled from far and near to 
receive their titles to lands. The work of issuing titles, which was 
begun in July, 1824, by Baron de Bastrop, had not been com- 
pleted when he was called away. By August 24 he had issued two 
hundred and seventy-two titles. The work remained unfinished 
until 1827, when Gaspar Flores was appointed commissioner, and 
gave deeds to the remaining families of "The Old Three Hundred/' 
"There was no provision in the law for granting land to men with- 
out families. These were joined in groups of two or three and 
each group constituted a legal family." 



4 s 



4 Harris County, 1822-1 8 'J+5 

Those in Harris County who received titles at this time (1824) 
and located their land in this county were: 

John Austin, William Bloodgood, Enoch Brinson, John Brown, 
Moses A. Callihan, David Carpenter, John Cooke, John Dickinson, 
Thos. Earle, David Harris, John E. Harris, William Harris, Wil- 
liam J. Harris, Johnson Hunter, Humphrey Jackson, Nathaniel 
Lynch, Arthur McCormick, Luke Moore, Frederick H. Eankin, 
William Scott, Christian Smith, James Strange, John D. Taylor, 
Ezekiel Thomas, Richard Vince, Robert Vince, William Vince, 
Amy White, Reuben White and William Whitlock. 2 Patrick Brias 
received his in 1827. 

There seem to have been only about thirty original grants 
made in Harris County at this time, but there were several settlers 
in the county who located their lands in other counties embraced 
within Austin's first colonial grant, and the lands of a few located 
in two counties, which adjoined each other. Besides the settlers 
who received land titles there were others, members of the same 
families, who should be mentioned. For instance, Page Bellew, 
the father-in-law of William Bloodgood; Charles C. Givens and 
Presley Grill, who immigrated with William Scott, and Dr. 
Knuckles, who afterwards married one of Scott's daughters. An- 
other of his daughters was married about 1826 to Sam M. Wil- 
liams. Thomas Bell, who with his wife and two children had 
settled just above the mouth of Cedar Bayou, sold out his im- 
provements to Scott, and the land was granted to Scott. 

Arthur McCormick immigrated in 1824, and settled on the south 
bank of the San Jacinto River below Lynchburg, adjoining the 
settlement of Enoch Brinson. His headlight league became noted 
as the ground on which the battle of San Jacinto was fought, 
twelve years after he had located his home there. He, together 
with his wife and two sons, John and Michael, occupied this land 
as long as they lived. 

Reuben White and his four brothers, Jesse, George, Henry and 
William, all came in 1824 and settled on the San Jacinto about 
six miles above Lynch's. James Dunman landed at Lynchburg in 

2 These names are obtained from Lester G-. Bugbee's "The Old Three 
Hundred," in The Quarterly, I, 108-117. 



Harris County, 1822-1845 5 

the same year and settled on the west side of Cedar Bayou, and as 
late as 1876 was still living a few miles above this point. 3 

The bay shore offered most pleasing locations, and were among 
the earliest to be improved as homes. Among these was the Ed- 
wards place at Edwards Point, and that of Ritson Morris near 
the mouth of Clear Creek on Galveston Bay, which were settled 
as early as 1825. 4 "In 1828 or 29 Philip Singleton settled on 
the north bank of Buffalo Bayou between the mouth of Old River 
and Carpenter's Bayou, on a hill nearly opposite where the Texian 
army camped the night before the battle of San Jacinto, and built 
a small log house afterward covered with plank, which is men- 
tioned here because it is the first house in the county of which we 
have any account which was covered with shingles and had glass 
window sashes. "... Singleton afterward sold it to, and it- 
became the home of Lorenzo de Zavala, the distinguished Mexican 
refugee and Texian patriot." 

"Concerning the settlement of the Spring Creek country not so 
much is known. Sam McCurley was living there on the league of 
land granted to him, a few miles from where Hockley now stands, 
as early as 1829. The Texian army camped there on the retreat 
to San Jacinto, April 7, 1836. Abraham Roberts lived further 
down the creek on his headright league/' 5 

About 1839 or 40 David Huffman started the Huffman settle- 
ment, and in 1876 he was still living there in the midst of his 
children and grandchildren. 6 The place is now designated on the 
county map as the town of Huffman. 

John Richardson Harris, the first of the name to emigrate to 
Texas, had made the acquaintance of Moses Austin while living 
with his family at Saint Genevieve, Missouri, in 1819-21. He 
agreed to join the colony, should Austin's plan for obtaining the 
necessary concessions from the Mexican government be perfected. 
He came to Texas in 1822 or 1823 and selected his land location 
at the junction of Buffalo Bayou and Bray's Bayou, which he con- 
sidered the head of navigation. In 1824 he received his title to 
4428 acres at this point. A letter from John R. Hanis, among 

s Burke's Texas Almanac, 1879, p. 88. 
'Ibid., 78. 
mid,, 79-80. 
'Ibid., 88. 



6 Harris County, 1822-18^5 

the papers of Stephen F. Austin, dated September 15, 1825, shows 
that he was at that time well established and in a position to sup- 
ply Austin with a sloop or schooner of light draft. After men- 
tioning other boats which were unavailable on account of being in 
bad condition, he offers to hire the sloop Mexican, recently pur- 
chased by him, to furnish a good master and crew, provisions, etc., 
and keep everything in repair for a monthly payment of one hun- 
dred and thirty-five dollars. In 1826 he laid off the town of 
Harrisburg, which became an important depot for supplies. The 
arrivals of his schooners running between this point and New Or- 
leans were events eagerly awaited by the colonists. In 1827 he 
was joined by his brother David, who was captain of one of the 
vessels, and his services are recorded in the history of that time. 
At a later date two other brothers, William Plunket and Samuel, 
came out. By the year 1829 John Richardson Harris was not 
only the founder of a town and the owner of a large stock of mer- 
chandise, with ships on the sea, but he had also built a steam saw- 
mill, at the junction of Buffalo and Bray's Bayous. In the summer 
of this year he sailed for New Orleans on the schooner Rights of 
Man, owned by himself and brother, to procure a piece of ma- 
chinery for completing the mill, when he was taken sick with 
yellow fever and died there, August 21. 7 In after years, when 
Texas had become an independent republic, one of its first counties 
was named in his honor, and retains his name at the present day. 8 

7 "The fatality of yellow fever this season in New Orleans has deprived 
this colony of one of its citizens, who for the enterprise which charac- 
terized him, was not only a very useful and important member of this 
young community, but one to whom it is indebted for the undertaking of 
a very valuable and considerable branch of mechanical industry. 

"In the death of Mr. John R. Harris, the colony has lost an enterpris- 
ing citizen, and his friends have been bereaved of one whose loss will 
not be easily replaced. He died on Friday evening, the 21st of August 
last, in that city after five days illness." From the second number of 
the Texas Gazette (Saturday, October 3, 1829) edited and published at 
San Felipe de Austin by Goodwin Brown Cotton. The copy from which 
this is taken is owned by Mrs. Mila Morris of Houston. 

s Family tradition says that John R,. Harris heard causes, or com- 
plaints, which from time to time arose among the settlers, seated under 
a magnificent magnolia tree, which stood on the point of land where 
Buffalo Bayou receives the waters of Bray's Bayou and is now occupied 
by Weld and Neville's Compress and warehouse. His first residence was 
on this point, then a most picturesque spot, and his sawmill on the op- 
posite bank of Bray's Bayou. The store and first settlements were in 
this vicinity and southward down Buffalo Bayou to a point where the 
Bayou makes a sharp curve. This sawmill site was used for a sawmill 



Harris County, 1822-1845 7 

The death of John Harris was followed by an administration 
upon his estate, and subsequently by a lawsuit on the part of his 
heirs against the administrator and against Harris and Wilson, 
which kept his estate in the courts until 1838, when it was finally 
settled by compromise. This litigation more than anything else 
prevented the location of the seat of the new Texas government 
a.t Harrisburg in 1836, at the time when this honor was bestowed 
upon Houston. The situation of Harrisburg at the head of navi- 
gation on Buffalo Bayou made it by far the better site for a city, 
especially at a period when water transportation was without a 
rival. 9 

by his brothers, Wm. P. and David Harris, and Robert Wilson, at the 
time of the Texas Revolution, and afterwards by his sons, DeWitt Clin- 
ton, Lewis Birdsall, and John Birdsall Harris, at different times up to 
1867, and the ground is still owned by his granddaughter. 

9 As original business documents of that early period are rare, the 
following from the papers of John R. Harris in my possession is copied 
in full, as probably the first cotton contract of any magnitude in Texas: 

"The following contract is this day made and agreed to by the parties 
hereunto subscribed (to wit), Jared E. Groce of the first part, and John 
R. Harris and Zeno Phillips of the other part. The said Jared E. Groce, 
promises to deliver to the parties of the second part on application, all 
the cotton he has by him at the time, say from ninety to one hundred 
bails, at ten dollars and twenty-five cents per hundred weight, for the 
following consideration and payments, ( towit ) , the said John R. trans- 
fers to the said Jared E. nine hundred and sixty-five dollars and 30 \ in 
final payments on W. S. Hall, to pay to said Groce, one thousand dollars 
in Bank bills of the United States bank^ or its branches, on or before 
the first day of June next or sooner, should a return be made sooner 
from the sales of said cotton. 

"The balance of the price of the cotton is to be paid on the 10th day 
of January, 1830, in Mexican Eagle Dollars or its equivalent in other 
money; for the payment of which the parties of the second part will 
bind themselves in a promissory note so soon as the weights are ascer- 
tained. 

"March 27th, 1829. At the request of Jared E. Groce, party to this 
instrument, I signed it. 

"Samuel M. Williams 
"John R. Harris 
"Zeno Phillips 

"In the town of Austin, this 27th March 1829, I, Joseph White, Con- 
stitutional Alcalde of this Jurisdiction, do certify that the foregoing in- 
strument of contract was made [two words torn] parties in my presence 
and executed by them before me, Jared E. Groce requesting Samuel M. 
Williams to sign it for him on account of physical inability to write, 
his arm being crippled. In witness of which I sign it with two assisting 
witnesses day and date aforesaid. 

"J. White, 

"Ass't Witness — Ira Ingram 

"Ass't Witness — H. H. League" 

In the inventory of "debts, money, merchandise and property real and 



8 Harris County, 1822-1 845 

In the list of merchandise comprising a part of the inventory of 
goods in the store at Harrisburg, there is an assortment such as 
is usually to be found in a general country store. Along with 
medicines, hardware, saddlery, candles, candlesticks, candle shuff- 

personal of John R. Harris filed at San Felipe de Austin, October 2nd, 
1829," a copy of which is in my possession, were the names of a great 
many colonists, carried on his books, with whom he had transacted busi- 
ness at Harrisburg and vicinity, and also at Bell's Landing, the most 
important trading point on the Brazos river. They are made a part of 
this record merely to show the extent of the business carried on by him 
at this early date in Texas colonial history. 

Names of those who traded at Harrisburg and neighborhood were as 
follows : Samuel C. Hirams, James Knight, Luke Moore, P. Singleton, 
Moses Shipman, Stephen Nicholson, James B. Bailey, Elijah Roark, R. 
Hicks, H. L. Shropshire, A. J. James, Silas Jones, Michael Young, 
Jonathan Scott, James Standeferd, Carey D. Gary, William Stafford, 
Thomas Sherman, C. Nash, Dan G. Bayles, John D. Taylor, H. Chevy, 
Knight and White, William Progtor, Anson Taylor, C. Dyer, M. Bund- 
wich, Jesse Thompson, William J. Harris, R. M. Cartwright, T. Newman, 
J. Shaw, Thomas Earle, George Brown, Elijah Allcorn, Allan Martin, 
John Allcorn, William Andrus, Miles Allen, Lewis Boatwright, Daniel 
E. Bagly, Enoch Brunson, William Brooks, Francis Biggum, John Bird, 
Jesse H. Cartwright, Cartwright and Laughlin, Phillip Coonse, Lemuel 
Crawford, Peter D. Buffield, William D. Dunlap, Clement Dyer, Arehalam 
Dodson, William Eaton, John Fank, Isaac Foster, Graves Fulshear, Alex- 
ander Farmer, Philo Fairchild, John Gates, Andrew Greg, Gannes Jesus, 
William J. John Hall, George B. Hall, David Harris, John Hamlin, 
Humphrey Jackson, Tabitha liams, Frances W. Johnson, Samuel Isaacs, 
John Jones, John Horse Jones, Frederick Jackson, John liams, John 
Jones (workman), John Kelly, Elizabeth Kuykendall, Hugh Kilgore, 
Nathaniel Lynch, William Laughlin, James Lynch, Joseph Lial, Rice S. 
Murray, Margaret McCormack, James McLaughlin, John McNutt, John 
Munroe, Samuel B. Miller, James Mars, Henry W. Munson, John Mont- 
gomery, Captain Micks, Colman Nash, Stephen Nicholson, Phelin New- 
man, Daniel Norton, John Owen, William Pettus, J. C. Peyton, Joshua 
Parker, Andrew Roach, John Randon, Andrew Robinson, Benjamin Reader, 
Smith Robinson, Leo Roark, William J. Russell, William Scott, Charles 
M. Smith, Moses Shipman, Daniel Shipman, William Swail, Joseph Sular, 
Andrew Smith, lone Shaw, Ezekiel Thomas, Lewis Thompson. Anson Tay- 
lor,. Jacob Thomas, Henry Tisherwester, David Sally, William Troboz, 
Joseph Urban, Jesse Vance, William & Allen Vince, Richard Vince, Walter 
C. White, White and Harris, S. M. Williams, John W. Williamson, 
William K. Wilson, Samuel Whitting, John A. Williams, George White, 
Wiley B. White, Matlida Wilbourn, Charles C. P. Welsh. 

Names of those who traded at Bell's Landing, on the Brazos river, 
near West Columbia: Henry Williams, Robert Brotherton, Thomas 
Slaughter, William Roe, David Hamilton, Francis F. Wells, William 
Barrett, Saml Chann, William C. Carson, William Robertson, Geo. Robin- 
son, I. C. Parton, R. H. Williams, P. Andrew, P. Burnett, John Jones, 
S. Williams, M. B. Nickols, Saml. Moore, Jas. Ray, N. Smithwick, Green 
DeWitt, Freeman George, Nicholas George, James Stringfellow, Alexander 
Calvert, Josiah H. Bell, James B. Bailey, Zeno Phillips, Solomon Wil- 
liams, Jefferson George, Robert H. Williams, Jesse Thompson, Joseph H. 
Polley, William Selkirk, Noah Smithwick, Martin Varner, William Staf- 



Harris County, 1822-181^5 9 

ers, cottoncards, and crockery were listed Murray's Grammars, 
Walker's Dictionaries, slate pencils and lead pencils, gilt buttons, 
lace, silk vests, flour, sugar, salt, and ordinary groceries. 10 

ford, John Alley, William, John, and George Hall, Chas. Cavenia, Joseph 
Sampierre, Saml. Low, William Chase, James Danly, Saml May, May & 
Low, David McCormack, Mrs. Alsbury, Isaac House, Saml. C. Chance, 
Law T rence Ramey, John C. Keller, Jas. N. Phillips, Cornelius Smith, 
Thomas J. Pryor, G. B. Jameson, H. Chrisman, Smith Bailey, Henry 
Jones, Daniel Shipman, Thomas Newman, Knight & White, Silvester 
Bowin, L. Smither, Harrison Williams, James Pevehouse, Thomas Bar« 
nett, James Smith, John B. McNutt, Solomon Bowl in, Geo. S. Penticost, 
Geo. Thrasher, Edward Robertson, Alexander E. Hodge, Henry E. Brown, 
John McNeal, Freeman George, A. T. Knauff, Smith Robertson, John 
Lawrence, James Bailey, Samuel Pharr, Walter C. White, Mrs. Bradly, 
George Huff, 0. H. Stout, John Austin, Ephraim Fuqua, John McLaren, 
James Moore, John Bradley, W T m. Morton, Arche Hodge, William Barnett, 
Allan Larison, P. Andrew, Henry Williams, James Norton, James Hinds, 
T. Farmer, John Gates, Hinton Cartes, Wiley Martin, Jesse Vance, Thos. 
B. Bell, Joseph Mims, I. C. Peyton, Robert Spears, Jesse H. Cartwright, 
Nichols McNutt, W. D. C. Hall, William Barrett, Peter Duffield, W. S. 
Hall, Eli Mitchell, George W. Brown, John W. Moore, White & Harris, 
Israel Waters, William K. Wilson, William Scate, Capt. Wm. Roberts, 
George Williams, Mrs. Powell, Francis M. Johnson, Wm. Vince, Wm. J. 
Russell, T. K. Murrey, Mathew Roberts, Judge Tunnell, David Carpenter, 
T. Alsbury, Job. Williams, Philo Fairchild, Thomas Slaughter, Saml, 
Highsmith, James Thompson, Andrew Robinson, Jas. Knight, Jas. W. 
Woodson, Saml. Kenneda, Wm. Kingston, O. Jones, Richardson & Davis, 
Isaac Vandoren, Border, Saml. 0. Pettus, A. Kimble. 

10 The following items from the Texas Gazette cast some light on the 
economic development of the county: "We take pleasure in announcing 
to the inhabitants of Austin's colony, that the entire Machinery for the 
Steam Saw Mill at Harrisburg has arrived in Trinity Bay from New 
Orleans, in the schooner 'Ann Elizabeth.' 

"Much credit is due Mr. David Harris, brother of, and administrator 
of the estate of the late John R. Harris, deceased, the original proprietor 
of the Mill, for his perseverance in furthering the undertaking, and we 
hope ere long of hearing of its being in active operation, when our citi- 
zens will be able to supply themselves with building timber at a low 
rate, and at the same time the present proprietors will be amply re- 
munerated for their trouble and expense." March 13, 1830. 

"June 5, 1830, a postoffice has been established at Brazoria, and we 
understand that another will be established at Harrisburg in a short 
time." 

July 22, 1830. "The Steam Saw Mill at Harrisburg of Messrs. Wil- 
son and Harris is in operation and works very well." 

July 31, 1830 : "Sloop Alabama, Captain Lovejoy, arrived at Harris- 
burg from New Orleans, will leave for Matamoras with cargo of plank 
from the saw mill." 

On July 10th, 1830, an advertisement states that "Enoch Brinson of 
San Jacinto Bay has opened a house of private entertainment, also a 
blacksmith shop." And on October 3, the same years appears the card of: 

"G. B. Jameson, Attorney and Counselor at Law — San Felipe de Aus- 
tin." G. B. Jameson afterwards became a soldier of the Revolution, and 
perished in the Alamo after having sent out to General Houston impor- 
tant communications and plans of that fortress. 



10 Harris County, 1822-181*5 

About the year 1831, David G. Burnet, one of the most important 
figures in Texas history, after a short absence returned, bringing 
with him a boiler and steam engine, which he located at Lynch- 
burg. In this enterprise were associated with him Norman Hurd 
and Gilbert Brooks, who came out with the machinery and assisted 
in building the mill. The mill stood until 1845, when it was de- 
stroyed by fire. Judge Burnet's home was only a few miles from 
Lynchburg, and an arm of the bay in that vicinity is called Bur- 
net's Bay. 

The colonists of Harrisburg municipality increased in numbers 
and prosperity ; farms were opened along the streams, supplies were 
brought by boats from Few Orleans, and peace and contentment 
reigned. Its citizens played an important part in all the affairs 
of the colony. 

From the reminiscences of Mrs. Dilue Harris I have culled the 
following brief statements regarding citizens at Harrisburg. 11 

"May 1, 1833, Harrisburg had been settled several years. It 
was settled by four brothers, John Harris, the oldest, had died 
some years before. His family were living in New York. The 
other brothers were David Harris, who had a wife and two children, 
a daughter named Sarah, 12 an,d William, and Sam Harris. Other 
people living there were Robert Wilson, wife and two sons; Albert 
Gallatin and son; Mr. Hiram, wife and two daughters, Sophronia 
and Susan; Mr. Lytle, wife and daughter; Mr. Brewster and son; 
Mr. Evans and wife; Dr. Wright and wife; Dr. Gallagher; Mr. 
Peoples and wife; Mr. Farmer and family; Mr. Mansfield and five 
negroes; one negro man, Joe, servant of W. B. Travis; John W. 
Moore, the Mexican Alcalde. The young men were Messrs. Eich- 
arclson, Dodson, Wilcox, Hoffman, and Lucian Hopson. The boys 
were James Brewster, and John, George, and Isaac liams, stepsons 
of Dave Harris. There was also a Mr. Ray. There was a steam 
sawmill at the mouth of Bray's Bayou ; it belonged to Eobert 

"The reminiscences of Mrs. Dilue Harris are based largely upon a 
journal kept by her father, Dr. P, W. Rose, and may be considered a 
reliable source of information as to settlers known to her family, who 
lived at Harrisburg or had their homes near enough to make that town 
their trading place and social center from April 30, 1833, to April, 1836, 
when the Mexicans burned the town and the settlements were broken up. 
See The Quarterly, 88-126, 155-172. 

12 Sarah was a stepdaughter of David Harris, he having married the 
widow of John liams, who left three s; ns and one daughter. 



Harris County, 1822-18.^5 1.1 

Wilson and W. P. Harris. Mr. Hoffman was engineer." Mr. 
Choate is mentioned as living "below the town on Vince's 
Bayou. He had five daughters. He was the most popular man 
in Texas." Thomas Earl lived below the town on Buffalo Bayou. 
He had a wife, two sons and four daughters, all grown. "The 
Vince brothers, Allen, William, Robert, and Richard, lived at the 
bridge on Vince's Bayou. Allen Vince was a widower. He had 
two sons. Their sister, Miss Susan, kept house for them. Mr. 
Bronson and wife lived at the mouth of Buffalo Bayou." A Mr. 
Doby is also mentioned as living in this neighborhood. 

May, 1834 — After mentioning the engagement at Harrisburg 
of Mr. David Henson, as a school teacher for the settlement, near 
Oyster Creek, (Stafford's Point), the names of some immigrants 
who arrived by schooner from New Orleans are given as follows 
from memory: Clinton Harris, son of John R. Harris, deceased; 
Mr. Mann, wife, and two stepsons, Flournoy Hunt; and Sam 
Allen; Mr. Pruitt and two daughters; and Mr. Kokernut and 
wife, young married people, were among them. "Mr. Kokernut 
was German, his wife French." 

After leaving the Cartwright farm near Harrisburg, Dr. Rose 
moved his family to Stafford's Point, where under date of January 
1, 1834, their "'four near neighbors, Messrs. West, Bell, William 
Neal, and C. C. Dyer," are mentioned, and the statement made 
that "Neal and Dyer married sisters, the daughters of Mr. Staf- 
ford, and there were two brothers, Harvey and Adam Stafford, 
both grown." There is also mention of the family of Mrs. Roark, 
widow of Elijah Roark, who was murdered by Indians near San 
Antonio in 1829, as neighbors at Stafford's Point. The children 
of these families, besides four young men, Leo and Jackson Roark. 
Mr. Calders and Harvey Stafford, made up the school. Stafford's 
Point was about fifteen miles from Harrisburg, where there were 
stores, a. sawmill, a blacksmith's shop, a shoemaker's shop, with 
other accessories of a town, and thither the settlers usually went to 
celebrate July 4th, with a barbecue and ball. These occasions drew 
all together for a big public frolic — Mr. Choate played the violin, 
and his services were much in demand at Harrisburg. DeWitt 
Clinton, son of John R. Harris, deceased, had come out with his 
mother, Mrs. Jane Harris in 1833, and opened a store, and the 
Indians came here to sell their buffalo, bear, and deer skins, 



12 Harris County, 1822-181^5 

blankets and beadwork. In the winter of 1835, two or three hun- 
dred of them, men, women and children from the Falls of the 
Brazos (Waco), camped in the neighborhood, and remained until 
they had sold their wares. At this time, the Kleberg family (Ger- 
mans) were at Harrisburg, and Mrs, Rosa Kleberg, but recently ar- 
rived from Germany, had an experience, which she related to me a 
few years before her death. The family had rented a house and 
were moving into it, each carrying a portion of the baggage. Mrs. 
Kleberg was alone and had just thrown down a big bundle, when 
a tall half-naked Indian, the first she had ever seen, approached. 
Seeing a loaf of bread on a table in the middle of the room, he 
advanced, deposited on the table two big venison hams, which had 
been slung, over his shoulders, picked up the bread, called out 
"swap I" "swap !" and stalked away. Mrs. Kleberg having retreated 
behind the table, stood in speechless astonishment, overjoyed that 
his one-sided bargain had been followed by so speedy a departure. 

In April, 1835, the Harris Reminiscences note the arrival of 
several English families of immigrants, among them the Pages 
and Adkinses ; Mrs. Brown, a Scotchwoman, with a son and daugh- 
ter, was at Allen Vince's place at the time of the "Runaway 
Scrape." This event, as its title indicates, created a wide disper- 
sion of former residents in this section ; the homes of most of them 
were destroyed, and not a few of them returned to the United 
States, or sought homes in other sections of Texas. 

The first account of a school in this municipality, although it 
is highly probable that there had been schools taught before at 
Harrisburg, is contained in Mrs. Harriss's reminiscences. The 
diary, dated May, 1834, makes mention of the engagement at 
Harrisburg of David Henson, as a teacher for the settlement near 
Oyster Creek (Stafford's Point). The school house, built of logs, 
was located about halfway between the homes of Dr. Rose and 
Mr. Dyer. It had been previously used as a blacksmith shop, was 
without windows, had an open doorway, and the floor was of 
puncheons. The teacher, an Irishman, was capable, but school 
books were scarce, and the multiplication table inscribed on a 
pasteboard bandbox belonging to Mrs. Rose, furnished an arith- 
metic lesson. The school did well until the arrest of D. W. C. 
Harris of Harrisburg, and Andrew Briscoe at Anahuac in June, 



Harris County, 1822-181+5 13 

1835, threw the neighborhood into such a state of excitement that 
it was impossible to continue its session. 

It was not until July of the following year that the settlers 
having returned to their homes (after the battle of San Jacinto), 
engaged a teacher named Bennet, also an Irishman, to reopen this 
school, with an attendance of eight pupils, children of the same 
families ; but the four young men were no longer numbered among 
the pupils. This school lasted only about six months, when the 
teacher returned to the United States. The country was too much 
disturbed by rumors of invasion for the establishment of any school 
at this time. 

The first teachers in Houston, according to Mrs. Dilue Harris, 
who was a pupil, were Mrs. Sawyer, who married a Mr. Lockhart, 
and Mr. Hambleton. whose school she attended in 1838. A Mrs. 
Robertson was also a teacher at Houston in the early forties. 



o>°* 



v^ 



14 Harris County, 1822-1 8 %5 



II. Harris County in the Kevolution 

The large share of the citizens of Harris County in winning the 
independence of Texas from Mexico has never been announced 
with a blare of trumpets; the facts have simply been recorded in 
history. 

That the citizens of Harris County were important factors in 
the early revolutionary period, will be shown in the following pages. 

In the summer of 1829 about thirty citizens met at Harris- 
burg and organized for an expedition against a predatory band 
of Indians. They marched to Groce's, a place of rendezvous, where, 
uniting with others, about eighty in number, under Colonel John 
Nail, they marched to within twelve miles of the Waco village, 
encountered and defeated about two hundred Indians, and returned 
home with the loss of only two men. 

When the first trouble with Mexicans at Anahuac occurred in 
1832, many of the citizens of Harrisburg marched under Colonel 
Frank Johnson to the aid of the Texans at Anahuac. 

From the beginning of American colonization, in this part of 
Texas, there had been considerable trade between the settlement 
on the Trinity, called by the Mexicans, Anahuac, and Harrisburg, 
the chief trading point between the mouth of the Trinity, and 
Bell's landing on the Brazos Eiver; it was natural that any inter- 
ference with this right should be strongly resented and resisted 
by the citizens of both towns, and the occasion which arose early 
in 1835 proved they were determined to stand together in defense 
of that right. 

In 1835 Anahuac was in the heyday of its prosperity. There 
had been no attempt to collect custom dues since 1832, but a 
change of policy on the part of the Mexican government caused 
the re-establishment of a collector of customs, and in the latter 
part of January, 1835, a body of Mexican soldiers under command 
of Antonio Tenorio was sent to enforce the collection of duties 
on goods received at the port, which was then known as the port 
of Galveston. 



Harris County, lS22-181 f 5 15 

Opposition to the contemplated infringement of the license which 
the colonists had enjoyed since 1832 was not slow in manifesting 
itself among the citizens, especially as they claimed that such dues 
were not collected at any other point in Texas. Captain Tenorio 
soon found himself surrounded with difficulties. In response to 
his letter of complaint to the government, he, on May 1, received 
a reinforcement of men, together with guns and flints, and money 
for the payment of his garrison, several of whom had already 
deserted to the Texas colonists. 

In the meantime, lumber which had been sent for the purpose 
of rebuilding Fort Davis had been burned on the night of the 3d, 
and upon his reporting this outrage to the commissary of police at 
Anahuac, as the work of one Mores, no steps were taken to arrest 
the supposed offender. In fact, the citizens of Anahuac had so 
little relish for the establishment of a Mexican garrison among 
them that they resolutely determined to resist the exactions of its 
officers in every particular. To carry out this determination in 
the most forcible manner, they held a public meeting on May 4, 
of which I submit the following report, clipped from the Texas 
Republican of August 8, 1835, published at Columbia. 

Anahuac, May 4, 1835. 

A respectable number of citizens of this jurisdiction convened 
this day at the house of Benjamin Freeman of this place, according 
to previous notice. Gen. William Hardin was called to the chair, 
and I. N. Moreland was appointed Secretary. The object of the 
meeting was explained by Mr. A. Briscoe who presented the fol- 
lowing resolutions and preamble, which, after a short discussion, 
were unanimously adopted. 

Whereas, There is no custom house organized in any part of 
the colonies of Texas, nor any duty upon importation collected, 
and whereas, duties have been collected here for the last three 
months, this being the poorest part of a poor country, there being 
an insufficiency of money to pay the duties on what importations 
have been made, trade every day decreasing, therefore, 

Eesolved, That the proceedings of the individuals claiming to 
be custom house officers at this place have neither been reasonable, 
just, or regularly legal, it being unreasonable and unjust to de- 
mand the whole duties of one small settlement, while the whole 
coast, and border besides, is free and open; and illegal, because 
they have never presented themselves or their credentials to the 
civil authorities for their recognition, nor have the said authori- 



16 Harris County, 1822-1845 

ties been notified by the Government that any snch officers have 
been appointed for this port. 

Besolved, That the country, as we believe, is not able to pay 
the regular duties according to the regulations of the general 
tariff; therefore, it is resolved that we send to the political chief 
of this department, by him to be forwarded to the Governor of 
the State, the foregoing memorial expressive of our opinion with 
regard to the situation of this part of the country, and its inability 
to comply with the tariff law, and praying him to intercede with 
the General Government for an exemption for these colonies for 
five or six years, from the restrictions upon commerce imposed by 
the general tariff. 

Besolved, That until the object of the preceding resolution can 
be carried into effect, no duties should be collected in this port 
unless the collection is also equally enforced throughout the prov- 
ince; nor until then will we pay any duties on importations into 
this port. 

Besolved, That these proceedings be signed by the chairman 
and secretary, and that copies be forwarded to the Judge of the 
First Instance, to the editor of the Texas Republican; to Don Jose 
Gonzales and to the political chief of the department, to be sent 
by him to the Governor. 

I. 1ST. Moreland. 

Attached to these resolutions and also published, was an address 
to the Governor of the Free State of Coahuila and Texas, and a 
letter from Andrew Briscoe, dated July 11, to the editor of the 
Texas Republican, further justifying the action thus taken by him 
and his fellow citizens. The people were divided in their view 
as to the advisability of resistance, and the Columbia settlement 
held a meeting expressing strong disapproval of the course pur- 
sued at the Anahuac meeting. 

Moreover, immediately after the meeting at Anahuac, General 
Hardin, the chairman, left for the United States before copies 
could be made out and signed by him, so that any regular pro- 
ceedings were blocked by this action of the chairman. These cir- 
cumstances and the sharp criticism of the Columbia meeting, are 
the subject matter of the letter of Andrew Briscoe. 

The lines were now beginning to be firmly drawn between the 
opposition and the non-resisting or peace party, and for good and 
sufficient reasons the Anahuac people, with Mr. Briscoe at their 
head, having made their resolutions to resist the unlawful collec- 
tion of duties, stood firmly by them. 



Harris County, 1 822-1 SJ t 5 17 

Of Andrew Briscoe's willingness to prove his stern purpose by 
his acts, he gave ample proof a few weeks afterward, when he 
took an important step toward precipitating the long threatening 
revolution of Texas against Mexico. The story of his adventure, 
the first act of resistance to Mexican authority in 1835, connects 
the towns of Anahuac and Harrisburg very closely in history. 

From his home in Harrisburg, on June 10, DeWitt Clinton 
Harris, a youth about eighteen years old, went by sail boat to 
Anahuac to purchase goods of Mr. Briscoe. The collector 
refused to allow the goods bought by him to he removed 
without a permit from the custom house, for which, of course, a 
certain sum of money was demanded. With this demand, both 
Briscoe and Harris refused to comply. A guard was accordingly 
placed around the store on the night of the 12th, to prevent any 
attempt at moving the goods. While matters were in this state, a 
young man came into the store and asked for a goods box to put 
ballast in, which was given him, and he started to the beach 
rolling a wheelbarrow containing the box, which was filled with 
brickbats. Harris remarked to Briscoe that they could now ascer- 
tain whether the Mexicans would really prevent him from moving 
his goods. In a few minutes they heard the young man with the 
wheelbarrow calling for Mr. Smith, the interpreter; they both 
went out and found he had been stopped by the guard. When the 
interpreter came up and informed the Mexican guard of the con- 
tents of the box, they seemed satisfied, and allowed it to be taken 
to the beach and put on board the boat. But when Briscoe and 
Harris were about returning to the store, they were set upon by 
ten or twelve Mexican soldiers and ordered to stand, while a young 
man named William Smith, who was coming down the hill towards 
them, was shot down. 

They were made prisoners and confined in the calaboose. Har- 
his, being a mere youth, and not an arch offender, was released the 
next day and returned to Harrisburg, but without his goods. He 
immediately sent a report of the adventure to the authorities at 
San Felipe. On the 21st of June a public meeting was held 
there, and resolutions passed authorizing William B. Travis to 
collect a company of volunteers and eject Tenorio from the garri- 
son at Anahuac. Friendship, as well as patriotism required Travis 
to act in this manner, for, as he said, "Some of his friends who 



18 Harris County, 1822-1845 

were principal citizens of the place were suffering under the 
despotic rule of the military." This expedition started from Har- 
risburg, where the sloop Ohio belonging to the Harrises, was char- 
tered; a six-pound cannon, mounted on a pair of saw mill truck 
wheels, constituted its armament. 

There were about twenty-five volunteers, who were probably 
armed. Some of them, who at first signed an agreement at San 
Felipe to march against the garrison reconsidered, and failed to 
go, but other recruits were taken up at Lynchburg and Spillman's 
Island. At Clopper's Point, now known as Morgan's Point, an 
election of officers was held, which made Travis, captain; Ritson 
Morris, first lieutenant, and John W. Moore was appointed orderly 
sergeant. Arriving within about half a mile of Anahuac, the boat 
grounded, a shot was fired by way of warning, and the cannon 
was then placed in a small boat, and they rowed ashore. The 
Mexicans tied to the woods, and the fort was found deserted. An 
interview was had with Tenorio, who agreed to sign articles of 
capitulation, the next morning. So, on June 30 the following 
terms were agreed upon : The Mexican officers pledged themselves 
not to take up arms against Texas, and were to be allowed to 
proceed to San Antonio. Twelve of the soldiers were granted the 
privilege of retaining their arms as a protection against Indians 
on the march. All the arms, sixty-four stands of muskets and 
bayonets, ammunition, etc., were turned over to the Texans. Mr. 
Briscoe was released and the Mexican custom house in Texas done 
away with forever. 

The Mexicans and Texans returned to Harrisburg, where they 
arrived in time to attend a Fourth of July barbecue and ball. 
Captain Tenorio is said to have been a fine looking man of varied 
accomplishments. 

He not only participated in the amusements of the barbecue, but 
attended the ball, where he waltzed and talked French with the 
handsome Mrs, Kokernot, who was a fine linguist. On the whole 
he was treated with civility, and some people who were there 
thought he acted as if he was the hero of the occasion. The truth 
is, he was probably only too glad to be relieved from his duties 
at Anahuac, and hailed his deliverers with no ill feeling. But, the 
action of disarming the fort was condemned by all but the most 
outspoken of the war party, and Travis, on his return to San 



Harris County, 1822-1S1>5 19 

Felipe, had to bear the reaction of opinion. In a letter to the 
public on the subject, he was reduced to the necessity of justifying 
his course. I quote the closing lines of a letter which bears favor- 
able comparison for heroic sentiment with any that he sent out 
from the Alamo: 

I discharged what I conceived to be my duty to my country to 
the best of my ability. Time alone will show whether the step 
was correct or not. And time will show, that when this country 
is in danger that I will show myself as patriotic and ready to serve 
her as those who, to save themselves, have disavowed the act, and 
denounced me to the usurping military. [San Felipe, Sep. 1, 
1835.] 

The following letter from Travis to Briscoe, written at about 
the same time, gives a fair account of the state of public feeling: 

San Felipe, Texas, Aug 31, 1835. 
My dear Sir: — 

I have not written to you before because I was ashamed to 
tell what was going on. It is different now. Although the Mex- 
ican or Tory party made a tremendous effort to put us down, 
principle has triumphed over prejudice, passion, cowardice and 
knavery. All their measures have recoiled upon them, and they 
are routed horse and foot. The extent of their glory was to de- 
nounce us to the military at San Antonio and M,atamoras, and 
demand our arrest. An order was accordingly issued to Ugar- 
tachea, and repeated by Cos, to arrest seven of us and send us to 
Bexar to be tried by martial law. This was too much for the 
people to bear. When they were called on by an usurping politi- 
cal chief to carry these orders into execution, the sacrifice was too 
great. Their wrath was turned against the Tories and Spanish- 
Americans, who now dare not to hold up their heads. The people 
call now loudly for a convention in which their voices shall be 
heard. They have become almost completely united. And now 
let Tories, submission men and Spanish invaders look out. 

There is to be a great meeting here on the 12th of September 
on the subject of a convention. The Tories are dying a violent 
death, and their last expiring struggle will be made on that day. 
Therefore, I invite you to attend and hope you will do so. But 
I wish to see them overwhelmed. I have seen your publication. 
It does you credit. You have shown yourself the real white man 
and uncompromising patriot. Stick to the text and Texas is saved. 

I have at this moment finished conversing with a Mexican just 
from San Antonio. He says marching orders have been given 
to the troops. They are to be here by the 12th or 13th of Septem- 



20 Harris County, 1822-181^5 

ber to garrison this town, Tenoxtitlan, and Nacogdoches, with 200 
men each; and it is concerted that 200 men shall arrive by water 
at Anahuac at about the same time to garrison that place. They 
have sworn vengeance against all engaged in the late expedition, 
and in that of 1832 at Anahuac and Velasco. 

They calculate to take up these men with the aid of other Amer- 
icans, by which time they will gradually bring in troops enough 
to overrun the people and keep them in vile submission. They 
cannot do it. 

"We will not submit to be garrisoned here. I hope you will not 
there. We shall give them hell if they come here. Keep a bright 
lookout to sea. Allow no pilots in the bay to assist them, and 
they cannot land before you have time to prepare for them. Secure 
all the powder and lead. 

Eemember that war is not to be waged without means. Let us 
be men and Texas will triumph. I know you can be relied on; 
therefore, I exhort you to be active in preparing the minds of 
men for the scenes that are to be enacted. 

News from New Orleans that we will be liberally aided with 
men, money, and arms, has arrived. Already we have five pieces 
of cannon, 100 kegs of powder, and lead and shot to correspond, 
landed in Matagorda and sent from New Orleans. 

Come over if you can on the 12th. My respects to Wilcox and 
others. Please write soon. 

Your Friend, 

W. B. Travis. 

As is well known Travis was one of the leaders of the war party, 
and the authorities at Columbia were urged by General Cos to 
secure "the apprehension of that ungrateful and bad citizen, 
W. B. Travis." 

He, who at that time was blamed by some of his own people for 
precipitating the revolution, and called by his enemies, "an un- 
grateful and bad citizen," has earned a fame which shall give him 
through all the ages the noble title of hero, the birthright of such 
a determined nature. 

The first act of the revolution of 1835, in which Andrew Briscoe 
and DeWitt Clinton Harris took the initial steps, and were ably 
seconded by Travis and others, was of the same character, and 
marked by the same determination, as the closing act of Wm. B. 
Travis, at the Alamo. The}^ were the acts of men, who were 
determined to live in the enjoyment of constitutional rights, or 
die in defense of them. 



Harris County, 1822-181^5 21 

At Anahuac, the Mexicans were few in numbers, badly scared, 
and yielded without firing a gun. 

Another letter from Travis at the same time gives important 
evidence as to the state of public opinion two months after the 

attack on Anahuac. 1 

San Felipe, August 31st, 1835. 
Dear Sir: — 

Huzza for Texas ! Huzza for Liberty, and the rights of man ! 

My friend, when I returned from your place, I found the tories 
and cowards, making a strong effort, and for a time they were 
but too successful. I was, therefore, disgusted and wrote you but 
little, as I had nothing to communicate but what I was ashamed 
of, as a free man and a friend of my country. It is different now, 
thank God ! principle has triumphed over prejudice, passion, cow- 
ardice and slavery. Texas is herself again. The people in the 
whole upper country are unanimous for a convention in which the 
voice of the people will be freely expressed. Every part of the 
country has pronounced against the dictation and humiliating 
course of the tories and friends of the Spaniards. The pitiful 
faction which has dominated here has expired, and those who sup- 
ported the doctrine of abject submission to the military, have sunk 
too low, ever to rise again. 

Principle was gradually working out this glorious end, and pre- 
paring the way for the march of freedom when the order came 
for my being arrested and given up to the military to be shot, for 
engaging in the expedition to Anahuac, etc. That was too much 
for the people to bear; it was too great a sacrifice for them to 
make, and they unanimously exclaimed against this order and its 
supporters. The devil has shown his cloven foot, and his lies will 
be believed no longer. 

Gravis to J. W. Moore, in The Morning Star, Houston, Saturday, 
March 14, 1840. The editor, D. H. Fitch, says: "The following letter 
from the pen of the immortal Travis will be read with peculiar interest. 
Every line that has been permed by that noblest of Texian patriots will 
ever command the admiration and respect of Texians. Who can read 
these lines and not feel his bosom glow with the fire of liberty that 
animated their illustrious author? This letter was addressed to Major 
J. W. Moore, and the original is now in his possession; it will some 
day become a valuable autograph. Colonel .Moore was the first who 
raised the one -starred banner among the brave 'Harrisburgers,' to whom 
Travis alludes, and has on many occasions by his bravery and devotion 
to the cause of freedom, proved himself worthy of his noble correspondent. 

" 'The complimentary remarks of Travis, relative to the citizens of 
'Harrisburg county/ would apply as well, even now, as at any previous 
period, for there has never been a time when the citizens of this district 
were not the foremost to rush to the defense of the frontiers, or to con- 
tribute even to the last dollar, when the country required a pecuniary 
sacrifice.'-* 



22 Harris County, 1822-181,5 

A tremendous reaction has taken place, and the tories are almost 
as bad off as they were in 1832. "Heaven's hangman will lash 
the rascals round the world." 

The word now is, a convention of all Texas, to declare our senti- 
ments, and to prepare for defense, if necessary. 

The Harrisburgers want no stimulus to patriotism. They have 
always been the foremost in favor of liberal republican principle. 

They have always been on one side; the right side. They have 
never barked up the wrong tree, and I hope, never will. God 
grant that all Texas may stand as firm as Harrisburg in the 
"hour that will try men's souls." 

I feel the triumph we have gained, and I glory in it. Let 
Texas stand firm and be true to herself, and we have nothing to 
fear. We have many rumors afloat here. There is no doubt of 
one thing, they mean to flood the country with troops, and gar- 
rison the towns. 

San Felipe, Nacogdoches, and all the ports, are to be garrisoned 
in a month or two. They are determined to punish those engaged 
in the expedition of Anahuac in 1832, and in 1835 and that of 
Velasco, in 1832. If we submit to these things, we are slaves' and 
deserve not the name of freeman. 

We are to have a great meeting here on the 12th of September 
to vote for and against a Convention. The citizens of the whole 
jurisdiction are invited to attend. I hope you will come and bring 
all the Harrisburg boys you can. Those who cannot come, please 
get them to sign a paper similar to the one signed at Columbia, 
expressing their wishes for a Convention. 

Tender my best respects to all the boys — tell them never fear, 
fortune favors the brave. 

Your friend, 

W. Barret Travis. 

Many of the best people of Austin's colony were strongly opposed 
to the policy of separation from Mexico, and this attitude on their 
part in the beginning served to multiply the difficulties which beset 
the course of those who advocated independence at any cost. The 
following letter from the Hon. Wm. Hardin to Don Antonio Gil 
Hernandez, dated Liberty, July 27th, 1835, will illustrate the 
attitude of the peace party: 

Dear Sir: 

Some short time since I wrote you a few lines in which I stated 
that I would be down soon, and I expected to have come down 
before this time, but my health will not yet admit of my riding. 
I have understood that you wish to leave for the interior. I wish 



Harris County, 1822-18.^5 23 

you to make yourself easy and remain in Anahuac as I am deter- 
mined to give you any assistance that you may need. If there 
should arrive any vessel, I wish you to inform me of it imme- 
diately, and I will furnish you with as many men as may be neces- 
sary for the collection of the duties. I am determined that no 
vessel shall enter without paying the duties, I understand that 
goods are landing at the Neches. If you wish to go there I 
will furnish you with men sufficient to go with you. If I had 
been at home and in health you would not have been without 
troops at Anahuac. 

Very respectfully, Your Friend, Etc. 

Wm. Hardin. 
We certify the above to be a true copy from the original in the 
hands of Don Anto Gil Hernandez, Anahuac, Sept. 25, 1835. 

Joseph Bryan Adam Smith 

Geo. W. Miles A. Briscoe. 2 

Whether this certified copy was procured to prove Hardin's 
loyalty to the cause of Mexico, or his disapproval of the independ- 
ence movement in Texas is not known. While it seems to prove 
both, at that time there were many others occupying the same 
political position, who afterwards gladly joined their fortunes to 
those of the independence party, and it is presumed that he was 
of this number, as one of the counties of Texas was later named 
in his honor. 

The sentiments expressed in the foregoing letters furnish an 
excellent index to the general feeling of the Texans up to this 
time; they show how widely the views of good citizens were sep- 
arated as to their proper course. But, events immediately follow- 
ing the affair at Anahuac, among them orders from Mexico for 
the arrest of Zavala, Travis and other leading citizens, drew all 
factions of Texans together, precipitated the organization of com- 
mittees, who were authorized to adopt resolutions proclaiming the 
lawful rights of the people under the Constitution of 1824, and 
hastened the formation of military companies for the defence of 
those rights. When it became plain that Texans must prepare to 
defend their homes by force of arms, it was natural that the two 
chief towns of Harris County should occupy the front rank in the 
organization of volunteer companies, but, it is doubtful whether 

2 This letter is from the Andrew Briscoe papers, in the writer's pos- 
session. 



24 Harris County, 1822-18^5 

any official records of the membership of these companies have 
been preserved. Volunteers were soon merged into the regular 
army, and their significance as first volunteers was lost sight of 
in the greater importance of the large military body acting nnder 
duly constituted authority. However, we are fortunate in having 
some details regarding the organization of two companies of vol- 
unteers, — one at I/ynchburg and the other at Harrisburg. 

An undated clipping in my possession from the Galveston News 
contains an account of the organization of the Lynchburg com- 
pany, and of the making of the first flag in Texas bearing the 
Lone Star and the word "Independence." It was written by James 
S. McGahey, an officer of the company, who signed himself "An 
old Texian and an old Texas Veteran." 

Hempstead, Texas, Miay 30th. 
To the News : 

At this time viz : September 15, 1835, the writer hereof (a 
Virginian by birth) was at Captain William Scott's, San Jacinto, 
assisting in the organization of a company, upon the Captain's 
proposition. . . . 

Wm. Scott (a Kentuckian) was a wealthy man and patriotic to 
the core. He proposed to equip in full any one who would vol- 
unteer to fight for the cause of Texas, giving him a good horse, 
saddle, bridle, gun, accoutrements, provisions and a suit of clothes, 
and making his house headquarters until they were ready to 
march. 

About thirty men organized into a company, electing William 
Scott Captain, Peter J. Duncan of Alabama, first Lieutenant, and 
James S. McGahey, second Lieutenant. One morning while their 
preparations were going forward, Scott said to McGahey, "Mack, 
I have a piece of beautiful silk, solid blue. If you'll make a staff, 
we'll have a flag." McGahey took the four yards of silk to Lynch- 
burg, where a staff was made, and Mrs. Lynch sewed a piece of 
domestic to the silk to protect its edge from fraying, where it 
was attached to the staff. Charles Lanco, 3 a painter by trade, by 
order of McGahey, painted, in the center, a large five-pointed 
white star. Having done this, Lanco remarked, "Well now, that 
looks naked, let me paint something under it. What) shall it be ?" 
McGahey replied, "put the word 'Independence,' " and it was done. 

3 It is probable that Charles Lanco here mentioned was one of the men, 
who a few months afterwards perished in the Alamo. In the roll of 
names on the Alamo monument at Austin, it is engraved Charles Zanco, 
and in some early records of these heroes it has been printed Charles 
Lanco of Denmark, in others, Charles Zanco. 



Harris County, 1822-181+5 25 

Some men from Eastern Texas on their way to San Felipe, 
stopped, looked at the flag, admired it, and said, "It is just the 
course for Texas to take." Passing on to Harrisburg where there 
was another Volunteer Company, they told them of the Lynchburg 
flag, and its "Independence motto." Some of the men at Harris- 
burg denounced the display of this motto, and said "they would 
shoot any man who attempted to raise a flag with the word Inde- 
pendence on it before it had been officially declared by the proper 
authorities." An angry message to this effect was sent by courier 
to the Lynchburg Company, and a reply was returned, inviting the 
senders of the message to come down the next day and see the 
flag hoisted. 

McGahey had acted without authority in the matter of the 
motto, and in the message to the Harrisburg Company, but, when 
Captain Scott was told of it, he said, "By blood, Mack, that was 
a little rash, but I'll sustain you in it." 

The next day about noon, there came down the Bayou, two large 
yawl boats, each carrying eight armed men, and pulled up to the 
shore. Captain Scott's company was formed in line, under com- 
mand of Lieutenant Duncan, between the shore and Mrs. Lynch's 
house, every man with a loaded gun. "Not a man got out of 
either boat, nor was there a word spoken by any one." McGahey 
set his gun against the house, stepped into the house, took the 
flag from a rack, returned to the center of his company, unfurled 
the flag, and "planted the staff with a firm stroke in the ground, 
on the bank of the San Jacinto, and the lone star with the magic 
word Independence floated proudly on the breeze. For some min- 
utes not a word was spoken; presently the captain of one of the 
boats ordered his men to push away from the bank, and when out 
a short distance in the stream stood up, and taking off his hat, 
flourished it around his head, shouting, "Hurra for the Lone Star." 
Every man of his crew did likewise, but the other boat pulled 
away up stream, and departed without any demonstration of any 
kind whatever. 4 

The action of these two boatloads of men illustrated the feeling 
of the Texans in general, some full of fearless enthusiasm for 

4 The clipping comprising the letter of J. S. McGahey bears no year 
date. It is part of a collection preserved in a scrap book arranged 
partly in 1870, and at other times up to 1897. 

James S. McGahey was born in Virginia, June, 1805. He emigrated to 
Texas in company with George M. Patrick (1827), and shared in almost 
every movement of the colonists toward the assertion and maintenance 
of their rights. The last twenty-five or thirty years of his life was passed 
in Waller county, where he resided with his family at their home near 
Hempstead. He died on November 27, 1885. His widow survived him a 
few years. Their grandson, James Darrow, lives at Houston, and a 
daughter, Dora, wife of G. W. MeCormick, at Frenchtown, Kentucky. 



26 Harris County, 1822-181^5 

resistance at any cost to the methods of tyrannical government 
recently adopted by Mexico, others in favor of temporizing and 
waiting for authoritative action. But, when was a revolutionary 
movement ever carried successfully forward by regular methods? 

McGahey of the Lynchburg Company bore his flag on its staff 
to San Felipe, thence carried it in a knapsack, until after the 
battle of Concepcion. Having been badly wounded in this engage- 
ment he was furloughed and returned home after confiding the 
flag for safe keeping to Thomas Bell, who had fought by his side. 

The Company that was organized at Harrisburg at about the 
same time as the one at Lynchburg, was commanded by Captain 
Andrew Eobinson, and its first lieutenant was Archelaus 5 Bynum 
Dodson. Its membership was evidently conservative in sentiment, 
and the flag which was presented to it was made by the hands of 
the wife of its first lieutenant, to whom she had been married only 
a few months. This flag was made of calico, blue, red, and white, 
of equal sized pieces or squares. The blue was set with a single 
white star, next came the white, then the red, the pieces being 
arranged in the manner of the Mexican flag then in use in Texas. 6 

We can imagine the trepidation of the young bride as she made 
and presented this symbol of liberty to the company of which 
her husband was first lieutenant, and saw them march away to 
the west, scarcely daring to hope that they would ever return. 

Mr. Dodson, who in 1896 was living at Alice, Texas, sent me a 
model of the flag as he remembered it, and wrote me that there 
were no ceremonies attending its presentation, nothing but a state- 
ment made by him to the company, that the single star was like 
Texas, alone in her opposition to the autocratic government that 

^On the authority of the daughter of Mr. Dodson, now living at Alice, 
Texas, I have made the correction in the name, which has been some- 
times published as Archelam. 

c The flag made by Sarah Rudolph Dodson at Harrisburg is a matter 
of record in the Texas Almanac of 1861, pp. 76-77; Brown's History of 
Texas, II, 538; and the manuscript letters of A. B. Dodson in my pos- 
session. My correspondence with Archelaus Bynum Dodson in 1896, in 
regard to it, gave him an opportunity to correct some misconceptions 
with regard to the flag. This was done not only in the text of one of 
his letters written by his daughter, at his dictation, but by a model of 
the flag made by her through his direction, which placed the single 
white star in a blue field instead of a red, as it had been described in 
early publications. This correction was further emphasized by him in 
this way: in a newspaper clipping describing the white star in a red 
field, he had the word red crossed out, and blue written above it. 



Harris County, 182:2-lSJ t r } 27 

had been established in Mexico by Santa Anna. He said the flag 
was carried by Ensign James Ferguson, second lieutenant, at the 
head of the company, until Austin superseded John W. Moore at 
Gonzales 7 

Austin requested that the use of the flag be discontinued, that, 
if it should be taken into San Antonio, the commander there 
would look upon it as a revolutionary flag. So, it was not again 
unfurled, and was lost sight of in the after events of the war. 
However, after the fall of the Alamo, a flag was found in the 
fort, which excited the following comment from the Mexican Com- 
mander, Santa Anna. In a letter to Secretary of War Tornel, 
March 6, 1836, he says, "The bearer takes with him one of the 
flags of the enemy's battalions, captured, which shows that they 
came from the United States of the North." 

We have seen that the two companies organized in Harris County 
carried flags of original design expressing the political sentiments 
of their respective membership, and it is equally plain that the 
naval flag 8 designed by Burnet at a later date strongly symbolized 
the hope of the Texans, for, how simple and easy would have been 
the blending of its single star and thirteen stripes into the national 
standard of the United States. When those hopes were disap- 
pointed, and it was afterwards found advisable to contrive another 
emblem of a design distinctive enough not to be readily blended 
with that of any other nation, it was in Harris County that this 
emblem was designed and adopted. The coincidence of resem- 
blance between the Harrisburg flag and that finally adopted for 
the Eepublic of Texas in colors, differing, as they do in method 

7 Mrs. Dodson died in Grimes county in 1848. She was the daughter 
of Edwin and Elizabeth Bradley who moved from Kentucky to Texas in 
1822 and settled on the Brazos river in Brazoria county. They were 
among the first of "the old three hundred" of Austin's Colony. 

s When the provisional government of which he was the head retreated 
from Washington to Harrisburg, President Burnet and others of his 
cabinet were at the home of Mrs. Jane Harris, and, while there, Burnet 
devised the naval flag for Texas, which consisted of thirteen stripes, al- 
ternate red and white, like the United States flag, with a single white 
star in a blue field. This flag was adopted by the congress at Columbia 
in the fall of 1836, and continued in use until the adoption of the 
national standard by the third congress of the Republic of Texas as- 
sembled at Houston December 27, 1838. The flag was approved January 
25, 1839. 



28 Harris County, 1822-18^5 

of arrangement only, is a graceful compliment to Mrs. Dodson, 
the designer of the Harrisburg flag. 

There seems no room for doubt that to Harris County belongs 
the honor of having raised the first lone star flag in Texas. No 
rival claims have been established; on the contrary official investi- 
gation has disproved all other claims. 9 

Hand in hand with the organization of companies and the 
making of flags was linked the even more important business of 
legislating for the impending crisis. That the movements of the 
Texans were characterized by more than ordinary prudence is mani- 
fest when it is remembered that the first deliberative body ex- 
pressive of deep discontent assembled in 1832, and the principles 
then enunciated were never lost sight of, yet, the physical mani- 
festation of their revolutionary spirit was held in check until the 
most patient of patriots could no longer counsel delay. 

When we review briefly the events of 1835 and 1836, so full of 
immediate importance to the people of Texas, and pregnant with 
the future extension of the limits of the United States, we look 
back to the first convention as the nucleus round which the people 
rallied and organized for the defence of their rights. It was 
indeed a momentous occasion, marked by a long stride and a steady 
advance in the right direction. The comprehensive character of 
the resolutions adopted by this body of men, which was in session 
barely six days, the reports of the several committees and the two 
spirited memorials addressed to the Congress of the United Mexi- 

9 In reply to the question often asked as to why Texas is called the 
Lone Star State, Governor C. A. Culberson, on January 29, 1898, wrote a 
letter which was published in the San Antonio Express and the Houston 
Post of January 31 of the same year. The letter deals mostly with the 
first use of the single star as a seal, and in regard to the flags he writes 
as follows: "Enterprising and dauntless characters in other states re- 
sponded to the necessities of the Texans in their struggle for liberty, and 
among these was a Georgia battalion commanded by William Ward, who 
with most of his men perished in the massacre of Goliad. The command, 
as has unquestionably been proven by depositions :n our courts, was or- 
ganized November 12, 1835, at Macon, Ga., and before the 20th of that 
month, about which day they were at Columbus en route to Texas, Miss 
Troutman, of Knoxville, Ga., presented these troops with a flag of plain 
white silk, with a lone azure star of five points, which they afterwards 
carried as their banner. . . . This, however, was not the first lone 
star flag 'unfurled in our Avar of independence. While the exact date 
may be in doubt, it is, nevertheless, certain that, prior to the presenta- 
tion of the flag to Ward in Georgia, Mrs. Sarah R. Dodson, of Harris- 
burg, Texas, presented a flag of red, white and blue, with a five-pointed 
white star to a company organized at that place." 



Harris County, 1822-181$ 29 

can States, all show that its members were of the same temper 
as those who, three years and five months afterwards, formulated 
the declaration of Texas independence. 10 

According to the official journal of the first convention held 
on the first day of October, 1832, in the town of San Felipe de 
Austin, which was composed of delegates elected by the people 
of the different districts, the district afterwards known as Harris 
County was called "San Jacinto," and was represented by Archi- 
bald B. Dodson, Geo. F. Eichardson, and Eobert Wilson. 

In the second convention held at the same place, on the first 
day of April, 1833, David G. Burnet bore a leading part, and his 
colleagues from this district were Archibald B. Dodson and Geo. F. 
Richardson. As chairman of a committee to draft a memorial to 
the Mexican Congress, Burnet prepared a paper Avhich has been 
pronounced by critics versed in diplomatic literature as deserving 
high rank among state papers. 11 

It is well known how futile were these well intentioned petitions 
of the Texas colonists; by the spring of 1835 the anarchy which 
reigned in the twin state, Coahuila, left the Texans virtually with- 
out government except such self-inaugurated local tribunals as 
they were obliged to establish. The citizens of Harrisburg munici- 
pality were even more ready now, if possible, than in former years, 
to unite with others in insisting upon their rights. The presence 
among them of the Mexican statesman Zavala (he arrived in July, 
1835) inspired them with a sterner determination to combat 
tyranny by every lawful means. Zavala was active in urging the 
necessity for organizing a power "which would restore harmony, 
and establish uniformity in all the branches of the public admin- 
istration, which would be a rallying point for the citizens, whose 
hearts now tremble for liberty. 12 

He was an object of suspicion to the government and spies were 
active in reporting to the Mexican government all of his move- 
ments. 13 

1(1 Brown, History of Texas, I, 196-210. 

n For a copy of the memorial, see Yoakum, History of Texas. 

12 Speech of De Zavala on August 7, 1835, in Foote, Texas and the 
Texians. II, 83. 

13 In a letter written on July 25, 1835, these words are used: "Don 
Lorenzo de Zavala is now in Columbia trying to arouse the people. Have 
him called for and he also will be delivered up. Williams, Baker and 



30 Harris County, 1822-181^5 

From the time of his advent, the people who were his neighbors 
became his friends, they admired his talent, his patriotism, looked 
up to him as a guide, and availed themselves of the first opportu- 
nity to profit by his services; so, in the sessions of the perma- 
nent council which met at San Felipe de Austin from October 11 
to October 31, 1835, Harrisburg was represented by Lorenzo de 
Zavala and Jesse Batterson. 14 In the consultation, which fol- 
lowed, Harrisburg was represented by Lorenzo de Zavala, C. L. 
Dyer, John W. Moore, and David B. McComb. 

When the consultation elected a general council, which, together 
with the governor and lieutenant-governor was to be invested with 
full powers of government, William Plunkett Harris, the brother 
of John E. Harris, who had founded the town of Harrisburg, rep- 
resented this municipality. 

A law of the Legislature of Coahuila and Texas had provided 
for the appointment of a first and second judge for each munici- 
pality, but none had been appointed. The general council, there- 
fore, on November 16, 1835, appointed two judges for the munici- 
pality of Harrisburg. 15 They were T. H. League and Nathaniel 
Lynch. 

The stormy sessions of the general council truly tested the merits 
of the movement for local self-government, and patriotism often 

Johnson are now on a visit to him, and no doubt conspiring against the 
government. Fail not to move in this matter quickly, as now is the 
time." Brown, I, 302-303. 

"The Quarterly, VII, 260. 

15 On the thirtieth day of December, 1835, the general council passed 
an ordinance denning the boundary of the municipality of Harrisburg, 
which was approved by the Governor, Henry Smith. The boundary lines 
of the municipality of Harrisburg shall be, and hereby are declared as 
follows: "Beginning at the entrance of Clear Creek into Galveston Bay, 
running up said creek with the line of the Municipality of Brazoria, 
and with said line to the Brazos River; thence up said river to the 
upper line of a league of land granted by the Mexican Government to 
Isaacs; thence along said line to the Northeast corner of said league; 
thence northwardly to include the settlements on Spring Creek, to the 
Southern line of the Municipality of Washington; thence eastwardly 
along said line to the Municipality of Washington, and so far east- 
wardly as to intersect the line dividing the department of Brazos and 
Nacogdoches ; thence southwardly along said line to Galveston Bay ; 
thence to the place of beginning." 

Section 2 of the ordinance decreed that the town of Harrisburg on 
the west bank of Buffalo Bayou should be the "Place for transacting the 
judicial and municipal business of said municipality and for deposit of 
the archives of the same." 



Harris County, 1822-18J f 5 31 

trembled in dread for the outcome. Probably never before did an 
embryo nation survive such political discord. 

On December 13, the council passed a resolution calling for a 
convention of delegates from each municipality of the three de- 
partments of Texas, to meet on March 1, 1836, to adopt a form 
of government. This resolution promised to clear the atmosphere, 
and gave the people hope that a new body of representatives would 
be able to quiet internal dissensions, and at the same time elect 
and install a government to cope successfully with the warlike 
conditions surrounding them. The rapidity with which their 
wishes were carried out shows that there was remarkable unan- 
imity among the delegates assembled at Washington on the Brazos ; 
a convention which lasted barely seventeen days, and laid the 
foundation for a nation. 

On this occasion the municipality of Harrisburg was represented 
by Lorenzo de Zavala and Andrew Briscoe. This convention, which 
made the Declaration of Independence, and adopted a constitution 
for a provisional government, forming the basis for that of the 
Republic of Texas, elected David G. Burnet, president, and Lorenzo 
de Zavala, vice-president, thus giving to these citizens of the 
municipality of Harrisburg the highest offices within their gift. 

These proceedings were the consummation of the most ardent 
hopes of the leading citizens of Harris County, and the decisive 
battle of San Jacinto, a few weeks afterward gave to Texas with 
a single rapid master stroke the sacred boon, which their gifted 
statesmen had, for years, vainly besought the Mexican government 
to grant. Yet, between these two important dates, when inde- 
pendence was declared and won, what scenes of terror and deso- 
lation had defaced the fair landscape. What generous libations 
had been poured upon liberty's altars, what sacrificial flames had 
ascended in her name ! The very names "Alamo and La Bahia" 
spread terror throughout the land. 

As the retreat of the Texan army to the eastward left the homes 
of the west unprotected, flight became the watchword, and the 
dread cry "the Mexicans are coming" echoed in the ears of the 
fugitives, as with almost breathless haste they sought to get in 
advance of the army in order to keep it between them and the 
dreaded foe. Tales of the "Runaway scrape" 16 have been cleverly 

6 The Quarterly, VI, 162-172; A Comprehensive History of Texas, II, 
669-671. 



32 Harris County, 1822-181^5 

told by many who were in it and of it, but attention is specially 
directed to those relating to Harris Connty experiences. 

President Burnet, Vice-President Zavala and others of the cab- 
inet of the provisional government were members of the household 
of Mrs. Jane Harris, widow of John E. Harris, from March 22 
until about the 13th of April; a few days afterward New Wash- 
ington became their rendezvous. 17 

The expedition to Harrisburg, under command of Santa Anna 
himself, for the purpose of capturing the government, and espe- 
cially the vice-president, Zavala, was a failure so far as its main 
objects were concerned, but, inasmuch as it resulted in the entire 
destruction of this then important town, with its steam saw-mill, 
and the printing press of the Telegraph and Texas Register, the 
newspaper on which the government depended for the publication 
of its executive orders, it inflicted untold damage on the Texans, 
and greatly retarded the progress of the infant Eepublic. 18 

New Washington was the home of Colonel James Morgan, and 
here President Burnet narrowly escaped capture a few days after 

v From Virginia to Texas, 1835-1836— Diary of Col. Wm. F. Gray, 143, 
146, 165. 

18 The Telegraph and Texas Register published at San Felipe de Austin 
bj Gail Borden, Jr., Thomas H. Borden and Joseph Baker, under the 
firm of Baker & Bordens, was moved from San Felipe to Harrisburg, the 
latter part of March, 1836. In spite of the disturbed condition of the 
country, an effort was made to resume publication. On April 14, the 
""forms went to press," but, only a few sheets had been taken off, prob- 
ably not more than half a dozen, when Santa Anna and his troops en- 
tered the town and captured the printers and press. The former were 
held prisoners, the latter, together with all material, was thrown into 
the Bayou. The editors made their escape, taking with them the few 
sheets which had been printed. These were of great importance, for 
they comprised the executive ordinance of the provisional government, 
at Harrisburg, the only copy which was preserved in the general destruc- 
tion of that place, which speedily followed. 

Mr. A. C. Gray, in his "History of the Texas Press," says: "The 
press was what was known as a 'Smith medium hand press,' manufac- 
tured by R. Hoe & Co., New York, and was at that time considered the 
best press made. It was afterwards taken out of the bayou, and set up 
in Houston, and the 'Morning Star' printed on it. It was in the 'Tele- 
graph' office when that paper finally suspended in February, 1877. What 
became of it after that time is not known." So much for the newspaper 
of the Revolution, which published the official documents of the consul- 
tation, council and provisional government, up to the time, when it was 
violently seized and consigned to a watery grave by the minions of Santa 
Anna. A description of the wrecking of the type was given in an edi- 
torial contained in the first number of the second volume of the Tele- 
graph, issued January 18, 1837, at Columbia. 



Harris County, 1822-18^5 33 

leaving Harrisburg; he had just put off from, the shore in a small 
boat when the General, Almonte, at the head of a squad of cavalry, 
dashed into the place. After pillaging the store houses, the torch 
was applied to the buildings, when the Mexicans received orders to 
march as rapidly as possible to Lynchburg hoping to intercept and 
cut off the passage of the Texan army, which was supposed to be 
retreating, by way of the ferry at that place. 

I have often visited the place during the life-time of Colonel 
Morgan, and heard the tale of how Turner, an intelligent yellow 
boy belonging to Colonel Morgan, at first misled the Mexicans, 
by telling them that General Houston and his army had already 
crossed the river at Lynchburg on their march to the Trinity; 
also of how the Mexican pack mules were stampeded in a narrow 
lane, when their drivers were surprised by orders to prepare for 
a forced march to Lynchburg. 

The battle of San Jacinto, which soon followed this counter- 
march of the Mexicans, is by far the most important event that 
ever took place in the county or the state. But, it has been so 
fully described by abler writers, that it would be out of place in 
this compendium. There are, however, some circumstances con- 
nected with it which may with propriety be mentioned. They were 
familiar topics of conversation among the old settlers who were 
living at Harrisburg and its vicinity at the time of the battle, and 
with whom I was associated very closely during my girlhood. 

In close connection with the battle of San Jacinto, though sep- 
arated from the field by eight long miles, is the noted Vince's 
Bridge, which has won a place in history altogether out of pro- 
portion to the size of the stream, or its strategic importance. This 
is, no doubt, owing to the ignorance of early writers as to the 
topography of the country. General Houston in his report of the 
battle says he "ordered the bridge on the only road communicating 
with the Brazos, distant eight miles from our encampment, to be 
destroyed, thus cutting off all possibility of escape"; it was in all 
probability the only road, for roads were few in those days; the 
settlers were accustomed to cut across the prairies, directing their 
course by points of timber, and usually reached their destination 
with slight variation from the prescribed route. Imaginative 
writers, entirely ignorant of the size of the stream or the nature 
of the country near it, have pictured Vince's Bayou as a wide, 



34 Harris County, 1822-181+5 

turbid, raging torrent, impossible to cross without a bridge, when, 
in reality, it is only three miles long, and, but for its boggy banks, 
might easily have been crossed at almost any point. 

The direct line of march for the Mexican army from Fort Bend 
(near Eichmond) to the ferry at Lynchburg, would have crossed 
Sim's Bayou at a point above the source of Vince's Bayou; and 
it was by this route that the heavy cannon and a portion of Cos's 
command marched. 20 The deep ruts left by this cannon in the 
soft prairie soil, which, on account of a very rainy season, was 
thoroughly saturated, were familiar to people living in this sec- 
tion of the country not only soon after the battle, but for months, 
and even years afterwards. 

The Mexicans who had crossed Vince's Bridge naturally sought 
to escape by the same route, and the horse on which Santa Anna 
was mounted, a fine black stallion, which he had taken from the 
Vince's place on his march from Harrisburg to New Washington, 
took the road leading to his owner's home. If Santa Anna had 
been informed as to the "lay of the land" he could have made 
good his retreat to the Brazos, without ever seeing Vince's Bayou, 
as did a courier from Colonel Garcia, who reached Filisola on 
the afternoon of the 23rd of April, 1836. 21 

Well for Texas that there was no traitor to guide him, and that 
this small, insignificant, boggy little bayou, scarcely noticeable on 
the map, arrested his flight, and prevented his reaching the divi- 
sion of the Mexican army under Filisola, on the Brazos. Could 
he have done so, what might have been accomplished by Filisola 
with his four thousand and seventy-eight trained soldiers against 
the small Texas army at San Jacinto ! The bridge was chopped 
and burned, so as to be impassable, but the remnants of timber 
were long to be seen on the bank. When a new one was made, it 
was placed about a hundred yards higher up the stream, and the 
one now in use is still farther from the original bridge and nearer 
the source of the small stream. 

Many years ago in company with my grandmother, Mrs. Jane 
Harris, who was living at Harrisburg during the revolution, I fre- 

20 Teocas Almanac, 1870, 41-42 — Account of the battle of San Jacinto by 
Col. Pedro Delgardo. 

- : Teocas Almanac, 1859, 59 — "The San Jacinto Campaign," by N. D. 
Labadie. 



Harris County, 1822-1 8 J^G 35 

quently traveled over this road, and had pointed out to me the 
location of the bridge, which had played snch an important part 
in history. 

An error made by the early writers in the names of two bayous 
which empty into Buffalo Bayou in the vicinity of Harrisburg, 
has resulted in a misconception of the movements of the Texian 
army before the battle of San Jacinto. For instance, the name 
of Bray's Bayou, which empties into Buffalo on its right bank 
to the north of Harrisburg, seems to have been substituted in 
Yoakum's History for Sim's Bayou, which lies about two miles 
south of it, and must have been crossed by Santa Anna, in his 
march from Harrisburg to New Washington. Bray's Bayou played 
no part in the march of the Texan army. The Texan army 
marched along the left bank of Buffalo Bayou to a point opposite 
Harrisburg, thence to a point just below the mouth of Sim's 
Bayou, two miles below Harrisburg, where they crossed to the 
right bank of Buffalo Bayou, using the floor of Mr. Isaac Bat- 
terson's house, which was about where Clinton now stands, to 
make a raft for crossing the troops, the horses being made to 
swim; thence, their line of march was the same that had been 
followed by Santa Anna until they neared Lynch's Ferry, where 
they halted, and where the famous battle took place. 

Many refugees were encamped at no great distance, and heard 
the sound of the cannon, while waiting in great anxiety to learn 
who were the victors. Some were clustered together on Galveston 
island, where their temporary shelters of calico, domestic, and 
sheeting, stretched as awnings over sun-browned women and chil- 
dren, gave them a gypsy-like appearance. Newly arrived volun- 
teers from New Orleans lent an important military air to the 
environs of little Fort Travis at Galveston. Finally, on April 26, 
all were summoned to approach the government headquarters when 
the bearer of dispatches from the army arrived — Benjamin C. 
Franklin was the messenger of good tidings. 22 

^It usually strikes the reader of Texas history with surprise, that, 
while the battle of San Jacinto took place on the afternoon of the twen- 
ty-first of April, the news did not reach the government headquarters at 
Galveston until the morning of the twenty-sixth, four days and a half 
after the event. A detailed account of the manner in which the news 
was carried by means of a row boat, was obtained by me from John 
Tiams, one of the rowers. Judge Franklin bore the dispatches, and 



36 Harris County, 1822-1845 

The joyful news of victory was received with a wild outburst 
of shouts and hurrahs. It was unexpected, for, most gloomy fore- 
bodings had marked the weary days of waiting on the island. 
Mingled with this healtfelt joy, however, was disappointment, that 
Santa Anna had not fallen by the sword or been riddled with 
musket balls; or, failing these most suitable means for his ending, 
how would their joy have been doubled, if following the news of 
victory had come the announcement of his military execution. 
The people were crazy with thirst for revenge. The refugee citi- 
zens, for the most part, made preparations to return to their homes 
and make the best of their late losses. But, the feeling among the 
troops became daily more intense, and President Burnet eventually 
became the target for their most bitter denunciation. After his 
removal with the cabinet and the prisoner, Santa Anna, to Velasco, 
and the conclusion of the treaties between them on May 14th, the 
violent outbreaks on the part of the troops manifested their un- 
bridled temper, and caused the friends of Burnet to fear for his 
personal safety. The painful circumstance of the forcible inter- 
ference of the military (mostly newly arrived volunteers), in pre- 
venting the government from carrying out article 10 of the treaty 
of Velasco, is recorded with reluctance by the historian. The two 
letters in the note below are of interest in this connection. 23 

Iiams was assisted in rowing by two others whose names are not remem- 
bered. He said they did not dare to venture out into deep water, but 
skirted the shore as closely as possible. Not being sufficiently furnished 
with cooked provisions to make the trip without stopping, and having 
neither space nor utensils for cooking on board, they had to stop along 
the shore to cook their scanty meals. A pamphlet by Judge R. C. 
Calder, recently called to my attention, shows that he was one of the 
rowers. The pamphlet was published in 1877 — "The Messengers of San 
Jacinto." 

23 The original of the letter from A. Briscoe was obtained from Mrs. 
Gertrude Hobby, widow of A. M. Hobby, December 5, 1899. Mrs. Hobby 
was then living at Ennis, Texas. .Burnet's reply is among the papers 
of A. Briscoe. 

"Galveston, Fort Travis, May 19th, 1836 
"Dear Sir: — 

"Availing myself of the privilege of a friend, I must take the liberty 
of warning you of the excitement of the people. We have received in- 
formation here of extraordinary liberty allowed the prisoners under your 
eye, and knowing the natural benevolence of your character, I do not 
hesitate to believe it, I may pretend to know better the character of 
these people of Texas than you can, as well as the motives and prin- 
ciples which actuate the worse part of mankind, which you, having no 
feeling in common cannot pretend to understand. If Santa Anna is not 
spared for some evident political advantage, the people will not be satis- 



Harris County, 1822-1 81^5 37 

The difficulties which encompassed President Burnet in preserv- 
ing his prisoners from violence are well known historical facts, and 
his supposed leniency was so repugnant to the feelings of the mass 
of people, that his friends considered his life in jeopardy. It was 
not until after the election of General Houston in the fall of 1836 
that the popular anger had sufficiently abated for reason to as- 
sume sway, and Santa Anna was released and allowed to pursue 
his journey under guard to Mexico, via Washington, D. C. 

The summer and fall of 1836 were signalized by an element of 
unrest almost as great as that of the preceding year when the 

fied without a trial. If he has not violated the laws of nations by his 
conduct toward Fannin's Division, he has at least violated the laws of 
this country by a deliberate murder, for which he must be tried, if not 
spared for some great political advantage. 

"You have taken the responsibility of his safe keeping; the people 
will hold you personally responsible, and the world will not afford you 
a place of concealment; if he or any of his suite should under any cir- 
cumstances escape. This is from one who loves you much, the country 
more; who has the same feelings of the people, without their exuber- 
ance or suspicion; taking the liberty to subscribe myself with the high- 
est respect and esteem. 

'"Your very Ob's Serv't 

"A Bkiscoe." 

To this President Burnet replied: 

"Velasco May 21st, 1836 
"My Dear Sir: — 

"Your favor of the 19th inst. is just received. It gives me an un- 
feigned and somewhat unusual pleasure to be had in Texas, to recognize 
in your letter feelings and the sentiments of genuine, unsophisticated 
friendship. It is a manifestation that is peculiarly gratifying to me at 
this time. You will, therefore, accept my sincere thanks for it. 

"I am not aware that any extraordinary privileges are granted the 
President, Santa Anna. He and his suite are confined to a small house, 
which is constantly patrolled by a guard consisting of two soldiers with 
the usual reliefs. He is treated, I believe, with the respect due his rank 
and condition. This is in accordance with my views of propriety, and 
for this I am willing to be responsible before the world. 

"If he should escape, an event which I do not think afc all probable, 
the fault will not be mine, but I am sensible the responsibility would, 
however unjust the imputation would be. 

"I have from the beginning strenuously opposed the murdering policy, 
and so long as I retain a sense of my paramount responsibility to my 
God, I will continue to do so, though every man in Texas act otherwise. 
The idea of a judicial trial is too great an absurdity for sensible men to 
entertain. The Chiefs of beligerent nations have never yet been thought 
amenable to the Courts of the enemy Country, for any of their official 
acts. A cold blooded massacre, even when it might be justified by a 
rigid interpretation of the lex taliom.es would elevate either the moral 
reputation or the actual moral feelings of the people of Texas. It would 
be revolting to every feeling heart throughout the world, and I have yet 
to learn any one benefit that would result from it. Santa Anna dead is 



38 Harris County, 1822-181^5 

revolution was brewing. 24 While the battle of San Jacinto brought 
a temporary feeling of security, there were persistent rumors of 
preparations for a new invasion : volunteer companies were con- 
stantly arriving from the United States, and while they were 
warmly welcomed on Texas soil, their lack of discipline often pro- 
moted disturbances, and delayed the establishment and enforce- 
ment of the sorely needed laws. Mexican cruisers in the gulf 

no more than Tom, Dick or Harry dead, but, living, he may avail Texas 
much. 

"From these brief terms, you may deduce my views. I know the pop- 
ular jealousies, that men are always ready to impute to others the atroci- 
ties which they themselves are capable of, and are slow to believe that 
others can act from higher and purer motives than influence themselves. 
Such men are found all the world over, and they are not scarce in Texas. 
But I hope better things of others, and am willing at all times to sub- 
mit my public and private conduct to their judgment. The future good 
of Texas is my single object; thus far, I have absolutely neglected all 
my private interests even to the present comfort of my little family to 
promote that object, — if my efforts fail, the misfortune will be mine, but 
A guilty conscience 
I will avoid, Err 
I may, but I do not 
intend to err. 

"Finding a brief leisure, it gives me pleasure to write this much to 
one to whose honor and sincerity I have implicit confidence and who I 
trust will believe me to be 

"His friend and St 

"David G. Burnet." 

"Capt. A. Briscoe, 

"Galveston." 

24 A spirited letter from Col. James Morgan, who was stationed on Gal- 
veston Island, and had in charge many of the prisoners captured at San 
Jacinto, illustrates well the general feeling of insecurity as to probable 
invasion, and also the undertone of incredulity as to the future of the 
new town of Houston, which then existed onlv on paper. 

"Galveston, Sept. 30, 1836 
"Dear Sir:— 

"Since the receipt of yours of the 8th, if I have had an opportunity 
of answering it, I have not been aware of it. I have had nothing im- 
portant to communicate. The account you gave of the election did some- 
what surprise me. Hurrah! for Capt. Bob! There can be no doubt of 
General Houston's election to the presidency, and less of General Lamar's 
to the Vice presidency. 

"You have no doubt heard how the election went on the Brazos. I 
have just returned from Velasco. The Flash was there and has noth- 
ing for you. She will be here today, is now in sight with a fair wind, 
which has been ahead a day or two. 

"I presume your correspondent in N. O. did not send what you or- 
dered in consequence of her advertising for Velasco, though she has 
brought articles for Gov. Zavala. The Kos will probably bring yours; 
she will be here without doubt in ten days. 

"The Independence, Com. Hawkins, arrived at Velsaco, just before I 
got there. He was chased on the coast of Mexico for 10 or 12 hours by 



Harris County, 1822-1845 39 

gave chase to the poorly equipped vessels of the Texas navy, and 
the people of the coast country were kept in dread of war from 
without, and internal commotion by the discontented Texas army. 

armed Mexican brigs and one schooner, but made his escape. He learned 
their names on the coast. In all they carry 27 guns. He was informed 
off Matamoras that 4000 Mexicans were on the march for Texas, 2000 
of which were cavalry: Carnes and Teal have escaped and are at head- 
quarters of the Army. They bring news of more troops raised in Mexico 
for this country, headed by General Bravo and Valencio. 

"We shall have warm work yet. I am glad to hear of the brisk trade 
you have and that the health of the country is getting better: I have 
my doubts whether the Colonel will ever be able to get his mill agoing, 
notwithstanding his industry and perseverance. 

"I had heard of the high times at Harrisburg. The new town of 
Houston cuts a considerable swell in the paper. I wish its projectors 
and proprietors success with all my heart. It will injure Harrisburg 
City greatly when it gets into successful operation. Property must be- 
gin to depreciate there already. As for New Washington and Lynch- 
burg, Scotisburg and all the other burgs, not forgetting Powhatan, all 
must go down now. Houstonburg must go ahead in the newspaper at 
least. 

"I have had on the Island the secret agent of the United States. 
Next Congress will not attach us to the Union, I think. A spy has been 
on the Island likewise — A letter from him to General Urrea has been in- 
tercepted at New Orleans. I expect soon to go to the United States. 
Have you any commands? 

"Truly and Respectfullv yrs 

"J. Morgan." 

"Capt. A. Briscoe." 



40 Harris County, 1822-1845 



III. Local Administration 

With the election of General Houston and Mirabeau Lamar as 
President and Vice President of the Kepublic, the terms of Burnet 
and Zavala drew to a close. The new Congress, which, together 
with the President and Vice President, had been elected on the 
first Monday in September, assembled on the third day of October 
in the town of Columbia, Brazoria County. Zavala resigned his 
office October 21st, and Burnet sent in his last official communi- 
cation on the next day. On assuming the duties of his office 
Lamar paid a noble, eloquent tribute to his predecessor, commend- 
ing his public and private virtues. Zavala had died at his home 
on Buffalo Bayou November 15, 1836. 1 

The Constitution, under whose provisions the first Congress as- 
sembled, had been adopted at Washington on the Brazos on the 
17th day of March. Certain of its articles provided for the divi- 
sion of the Eepublic into convenient counties, and the establish- 
ment in each county of a county court and such "justices' courts" 
as Congress should from time to time determine. So, with the 
passing of the provisional government, which now took place, new 
laws were made for the establishment and government of these 
counties. The first act passed relating to the County of Harris- 
burg provided, that "the seat of justice be, and the same is hereby 
established at the town of Houston." This act was approved De- 
cember 22, 1886, and a section of the same act decreed "that the 
Island of Galveston shall for the future be included within the 
limits of the County of Harrisburg and be and compose a part of 
said County." 

- ' The time for "holding court" in Harrisburg County was fixed 
by the first Congress, on the fourth Monday of January, April, and 
October. It consisted of a chief justice, elected by joint ballot of 
both houses of Congress for a period of four years, and two asso- 
ciate justices selected by a majority of the justices of the peace 
from among their own body, and said justices so selected were 

^rown, History of Texas, II, 108-109. 



Harris County, 1828-1845 41 

required to attend said county court, or pay a fine, to be assessed 
by the chief justice, not exceeding one hundred dollars. The law 
required that there should be elected by qualified voters, from each 
militia captain's district, two justices of the peace for their respec- 
tive districts, "who shall be commissioned by the president and 
hold office for two years." 2 

The name "Harrisburg County" remained in use until it was 
changed to "Harris" by a joint resolution of Congress, approved 
by Mirabeau B. Lamar, December 28, 1839. 

The creation of the County of Galveston on May 15, 1838, re- 
lieved the chief justice of Harrisburg County of one responsibility 
previously attaching to his office, which had required that a jus- 
tice of the peace and a constable should be maintained on the 
island and elections be held there. 

Andrew Briscoe, the first chief justice of Harris County, was 
a Mississippian, who had studied law in the office of General 
John A. Quitman at Jackson, Mississippi. He was admitted to 
practice in the courts of that state. He did not follow the pro- 
fession of law for any length of time, however, but lived on his 
plantation. He was registered as a citizen of the State of Coa- 
huila and Texas, district of Ayish in 1833, and made several trips 
back and forth between Mississippi and Texas on horseback before 
engaging in any business. He was about twenty-five years old 
when finally, early in 1835, he landed a stock of goods and opened 
a store at Anahuac. The details of his experience with the Mexi- 
can authorities at this place are given in letters, which have been 
made a part of this history, and in copies of publications made at 
the time in a newspaper at Columbia. 

The irregularity, unavoidably attendant upon the organization 
of the government of the Eepublic of Texas, also pervaded that 
of Harris County, thus casting great responsibility upon the first 
chief justice. He was obliged to assume authority not yet clearly 
defined by law. Three letters addressed by him to Hon. Thomas J. 
Eusk, which show his position in the premises, are on file at Austin. 
The previous course of Andrew Briscoe in doing his part as a 
soldier toward gaining independence, as a member of the Con- 
vention at Washington, toward forming a government, all gave 
assurance of his faithful discharge of any duty intrusted to him. 
2 Gammel, Lams of Texas, I, 216-224. 



42 Harris County, 1822-181^5 

At San Antonio, where he, with his company of Liberty Volunteers, 
had taken part in the minor engagements about that place, he had 
later volunteered to "follow old Ben Milam into San Antonio." 
Then, when the people of the municipality of Harrisburg had 
elected him to join his colleague, De Zavala, and represent them 
at Washington, he rode across the country to that place. The de- 
liberations of the Convention having come to an end, he was imme- 
diately commissioned into military service again. At the battle 
of San Jacinto he was captain of Company A, Infantry Eegulars, 
under command of Colonel Henry Millard. He had been tried 
and found true, and the newly organized government commissioned 
him to continue in the service, but in a new role, as chief justice of 
the County of Harrisburg. 

There was much embarrassment in organizing the new county. 
The appointment of the chief justice of Harrisburg County was 
made on December 20, 1836, yet twenty days elapsed without his 
receiving any official notification of his appointment, and he was 
impelled to write on January 9, 1837, to Eusk, then secretary of 
state, reporting the fact that all the information he had obtained 
with regard to carrying out the duties of the office he was expected 
to fill, had been through the newspapers, and "a hand bill with 
the printed name of Wm. S. Fisher appended, requiring the chief 
justice immediately to organize the militia according to law, but 
addressed to no one." 

Seeing the great necessity for the immediate organization of 
the militia, he was resolved to take the oath of office at Harrisburg 
and carry out this important duty, but to perform no other official 
functions until instructions had been received from the depart- 
ment of state. 

Another letter to the same authority dated January 11, 1837, 
says: "I had received no official intelligence that I had been ap- 
pointed to the office, but suppose that such neglect was caused by 
the late illness of General Austin. I have taken the 'responsibil- 
ity' of dividing my county into captain's beats, and have issued 
officially orders for militia election. If I have done wrong it will 
produce no bad results." 

He further speaks of the county being very much disorganized 
and entirely without magistrates, and of the fact that he had not 
seen the law creating county courts, nor had he taken the oath of 



Harris County, 1822-184-5 43 

office on account of the absence of Robert Wilson from Harrisburg 
County at that time. 

In the next letter dated January 30, 1837, he includes a state- 
ment of "the boundaries of Harrisburg County as nearly as they 
could be ascertained in the absence of the laws creating them." 

He suggests that "Galveston Island having been attached to this 
County by a late act of Congress, throws our County into a very 
awkward shape, said Island being entirely unconnected with any 
other part of the County"; and concludes by outlining plans for 
certain changes in the county boundaries. 

The county court of Harrisburg County, as first organized, with 
few exceptions, corresponds very closely with that in force at the 
present day. The county commissioners, justices of the peace, and 
chief justice of the county court constituted a board of commis- 
sioners which was invested with entire control and supervision of 
roads, highways, ferries, bridges, and was required to provide at 
the expense of the county, for the support of the indigent, blind, 
and lame, who were unable to support themselves. 

All probate business was in charge of the chief justice of the 
county court. Among inventories of estates filed, were included 
the names of many slaves, and occasionally an application was 
made for guardianship for a "free girl or boy of color." 

Records of the probate court show that at its first session on 
February 28, 1837, Richard Vince, by his attorney, T. J. Gazley, 
asked to be appointed, administrator of the estate of Robert Vince, 
deceased, which was granted. 

The first marriage license was granted to Hugh McCrory and 
Mary Smith, July 16, 1837. It was signed by D. W. Clinton 
Harris, County Clerk. The marriage took place July 23, 1837, 
Z. H. Matthews, a minister of the Methodist Church, officiating. 

The minutes of the commissioners' and county court from March 
9, 1837, to March 23, 1846, give the names of the following chief 
justices who performed the duties of this office, viz: Andrew 
Briscoe, H. Humphreys, B. P. Buckner, Isaac N. Moreland and 
A. P. Thompson. Associate justices for the same period were 
Joel Wheaton, Clement C. Dyer, James McGahey, John Shea, 
Benjamin F. Hanna, E. H. Wingfield, John Fitzgerald, George 
Fisher, Sol Child, James M. McGee, W. F. Weeks, C. Herman 
Jaeger, J. W. Fogg and Josiah T. Harrell. Clerks of the county 



44 Harris County, 1822-1 8 '45 

court were D. W. C. Harris, E. D. Wingfield (clerk pro tem. for 
probate court October 29, 1837), and Wm. E. Baker. 

Minutes of the commissioners court for the first term show that 
the board of commissioners met on March 9, 1837, "pursuant to 
the order of Hon. A. Briscoe." The justices of the peace present 
were Isaac Batterson, C. C. Dyer, Joel Wheaton, John Denton, and 
J. S. McGahey. A. Briscoe, president of the board, presided. 
Two associate justices for the county and probate courts were 
elected by ballot. They were C. C. Dyer and Joel Wheaton. The 
minutes were signed by D. W. C. Harris, Clerk. 

The minutes of September record the names of C. C. Dyer, J. 
Cooper, M. M. Battle and J. S. McGahey as having been appointed 
to prepare plans and receive bids for a court house and jail. At 
another meeting in the same month they reported, and a com- 
mittee consisting of the chief justice and Sheriff John M. Moore, 
was appointed to receive title to the square upon which the build- 
ings were to be placed. The committee to build the court house 
and jail consisted of M. M. Battle, C. C. Dyer and Isaac Batterson. 

On January 18, 1838, A. Briscoe reported that the contract had 
been let to Maurice L. Birdsall to build the jail at $4,750.00, and 
the court house for $3800.00. At a meeting held on April 7, 1838, 
it was reported that some alteration had been made in the plan 
of the jail, making it necessary to contract for a second story to 
the building. This contract was also taken by Birdsall. The 
work was completed and the jail ready for occupancy on the 23d 
day of March. The contractor had been allowed till March 20, 
and the explanation was made by the president of the board that, 
"this delay is excusable on account of the uncertainty of commu- 
nication between this port and New Orleans, where he had to send 
for his spikes and iron doors." 

The commissioners were greatly harassed by the complaints of 
property owners in the neighborhood of court house square, who 
objected to the location of the jail there. 3 

The first commissioners court was officially called "The Board 
of Commissioners of Boads and Bevenues." 

The sheriffs were John W. Moore, Magnus T. Bodgers and John 
Fitzgerald. 

The sheriff's duties included the collection of taxes, and he was 

3 Another courthouse was built in 1850 on the square. 



Harris County, 1822-1845 45 

required to open an office in different sections of the county, on 
stated dates. For instance, on June 5, 1839, Sheriff John W. 
Moore gave notice that he would attend in his office in the city 
of Houston on June 30, at Lynchburg on July 1, at Wm. Pier- 
pont's store, Spring Creek, for receiving State and County taxes 
for 1838, inviting all tax payers to be present on these dates, and 
settle up, or be dealt with according to law. 

The deputy sheriffs often performed the duty of collecting taxes 
in the county precincts. William K. Wilson was one of the depu- 
ties who performed this office for many years. 

A list of precincts in the county tends to show that in 1843 the 
largest part of the population was in, and south of, the city of 
Houston. Chief Justice Algernon P. Thompson, in ordering an 
election for sheriff and coroner February 6, 1843, declared that 
polls should be opened at the following precincts, in charge of 
presiding officers, viz: No. 1, Court House, Jas. M. McGee, Esq.; 
No. 2, Kesslers' Arcade, G. H. Jaeger, Esq.; No. 3, City Hotel, 
F. C. Wilson, Esq.; No. 4, Niles' Coffee House, P. A. Hanks, Esq.; 
No. 5, Harrisburg, A. Briscoe, Esq. ; No. 6, Lynchburg, at Hardin's 
house, M. Hardin, Sen. ; No. 7, S. N. Dobie's, Middle Bayou, G. B. 
Reed, Esq.; No. 8, Spillman's Island, H. Levenhagen; No. 9, B. 
Page's, B. Page; No. 10, Penn's, San Jacinto, D. P. Penn; No. 11, 
R. Dnnman's, Werry B. Adams; No. 12, Cypress Bayou, John W. 
Fogg, John Simons; No. 13, Spring Creek, G. W. Cropper, W. 
Beasley. 

The Republic of Texas was divided into four judicial districts, 
and one judge was elected to each district by vote of both houses 
of Congress. Pie was required to reside, after his appointment, in 
one of the counties of which his district was composed. A district 
court was required to be held in the county of Harrisburg on the 
third Mondays in March and September, and might continue in 
session six days and no longer. As the judges were required "to 
alternate, so that no one judge should hold court in the same cir- 
cuit for two courts in succession, unless called upon to do so by 
the judge whose duty it may be to hold such circuit," the minutes 
of the district court of Harris County show that twelve different 
judges presided during the period from March, 1837, to the fall 
of 1846. 

Harrisburg (Harris) County was at first comprised in the sec- 



46 Harris County, 1822-18^5 

ond judicial district, but, upon an increase in the number of dis- 
tricts, it became, after a few years, a part of the fourth, and sub- 
sequently upon the further increase of districts to seven, it com- 
posed a part of the first district. Every session of Congress 
changed the counties of the several districts, and the times for 
holding courts, so that there seems to have been much irregularity 
in the courts of this county. What with deaths, resignations, and 
absences of the judges, many terms of court passed without ses- 
sions being held, and little business was transacted, as shown by 
the minutes. Owing to the frequent changes in the laws regu- 
lating these courts, there seems to have been confusion in the 
minds of the lawyers as to who were qualified to preside. The 
Morning Star of December 5, 1839, comments as follows: "There 
is strong reason to fear that the regular term for holding a session 
of the District court in the county will again be permitted to pass 
unimproved, as there appears to be a great difficulty about a judge. 
It was imagined in the absence of the newly elected judge of this 
District, Judge Shelby would preside during the present session, 
but it has been decided this measure would also be illegal." Judge 
Benjamin C. Franklin presided over the first term, of March, 
1837. Others who presided at succeeding terms were Shelby Cor- 
zine, James W. Eobinson, Edward T. Branch, B. M. Williamson, 
H. W. Fontaine, A. B. Shelby, Bichard Morris, Patrick C. Jack, 
M. P. Norton, B. T. Wheeler, and John B. Jones. 4 In many in- 
stances the statement is made on the minutes, "Judge absent," 
"~No court," and in very few cases were the minutes signed. 

The District clerks for the same period from March, 1837, to 
the fall term of 1846 were J. S. Holman and Francis B. Lubbock. 

"The District Courts having been organized by the Act of De- 
cember 22, 1836, the first District Court held in the county was 
opened on Monday, the 20th of March, 1837. Present — Hon. 
Benjamin C. Franklin, Judge; John W. Moore, Sheriff; James S. 
Holman, Clerk. The commission of the Judge, dated December 
20, 1836, and signed by Sam Houston, President, and Stephen F. 
Austin, Secretary of State, was read and ordered to be recorded. 
The following are those who answered when called by the sheriff, 

4 This list of judges was obtained from the minutes of the District Court, 
Eleventh Judicial District of the State of Texas, where the minutes of the 
District Court of Harris County of the Republic of Texas have been pre- 
served. They are comprised in books A, B, C. D, and E. 



Harris County, 1822-18 '45 47 

came into court and composed the first Grand Jury, to-wit: Ben- 
jamin F. Smith, Edward Ray, Benjamin Standi, Abraham Rob- 
erts, P. W. Rose, Wm. Goodman, M. H. Bundic, Wm. Burnett, 
John Goodman, sr., Freeman Wilkerson, Gilbert Brooks, Thomas 
Hancock, Allen Vince, John Dunman, James Earls, Elijah Hen- 
ning, Andrew H. Long and Joseph House, sr. Benjamin F. Smith 
was appointed foreman. This grand jury held its sessions in the 
boughs of some large trees which had been cut down and were 
lying on the ground near by. On the next day, March 21, the 
first indictment was brought in; it was against Whitney Britton 
for assault and battery; also, against Joseph T. Bell for murder, 
and James Adams for larceny. Britton was tried on the same day 
and fined five dollars, Joseph T. Bell was also tried on the same 
day under the indictment for murder. Bell demurred to the in- 
dictment — this, we are told means to stop or delay — the court 
however, positively refused to be delayed right in the threshold of 
its proceedings; the demurrer was overruled arM Bell required to 
answer, which he did by pleading 'not guilty' ; then came a jury, 
the first ever empanneled in the county, to-wit: Berry Beasty, 
Sam M. Harris, Arche Hodge, James Pevehouse, D. S. Harbent, 
Edward Dickinson, John Woodruff, Marshall McKever, Elliot 
Hodge, Leeman Kelcey, John O'Bryan and Joseph A. Harris, who 
concluded that the prisoner had done nothing more than they 
would have done under similar circumstances, and returned a ver- 
dict of justifiable homicide. James Adams being also tried for 
larceny, we find Gov. F. R. Lubbock on the jury — the jury found 
the prisoner guilty of the theft and it was thereupon decreed that 
that said Adams restore to Lawrence Ramey $295 and the notes 
mentioned in the indictment, and further that he receive thirty- 
nine lashes on his bare back, and be branded in the right hand 
with the letter T, and that the sheriff or his deputy, on Friday, 
March 31, execute the sentence in some public place in the city 
of Houston." 5 

The custom of duelling prevailed in the Republic of Texas, as it 
did in many of the states at that time. But efforts were being 
made to discountenance it, and on December 26, 1838, we find the 
foreman of the grand jury and his fellow jurymen issuing a 
lengthy and forcible address, principally directed against the evil 

5 Burke's Texas Almanac, 86-87. 



48 Harris County, 1822-181^5 

of duelling, and earnestly inviting the attention of Congress to 
the necessity for specific laws against the practice. The names 
of this grand jury are recorded as follows : Mies E. Smith, Fore- 
man, W. Douglas Lee, A. C. Allen, George White, William M. 
Cooke, John Alex. Newland, James Seymour, John Iiams, William 
B. Bronaugh, L. C. Stanley, Daniel Shipman, Lorenzo de Zavala, 6 
George W. Powell, Richard Ross. 

The following is a partial list of the members of the bar, and 
officers of the court of the Second Judicial District in 1839. It 
was copied from The Morning Star, April 16, 1839, and represents 
those who endorsed Augustus Tompkins for re-election to the office 
of district attorney, which he then held: 

Moseley Baker, I. 1ST. Moreland, John Birdsall, H. W. Fontaine, 
Thomas J. Gazley, H. Austin, S. L. B. Jasper, Jackson Smith, 
E. L. Stickney, J. H. Herndon, Wm. Ward, A. H. Phillips, John 
R. Reid, P. R. Lilly, Solon Miller, Jas. Love, Pat C. Jack, Chas. 
Cleland, Robert Page, Fenton M. Gibson, John L. Doran, A. B. 
Shelby, A. Wynne, R. Ross, R. Morris, J. W. Moore, Sheriff Harris 
Co., Jno. Fitzgerald, Coroner, E. H. Winfield, Clerk District Court, 
A. M. Tompkins, District Attorney. 

Harris County was represented in the Congress of the Republic 
of Texas by the following: In the first, second and third sessions 
of the Senate, by Robert Wilson ; fourth, fifth and sixth by Francis 
Moore, Jr. ; seventh, eighth and ninth by William Lawrence. In 
the first session of the House by Jesse H. Cartwright, second by 
Thomas J. Gazley, third and fourth by William Lawrence, fifth by 
James Reilly, 7 sixth by Archibald Wynne, seventh by Sidney Sher- 
man, eighth and ninth by J. W. Henderson. 8 

As the finances of a county are of the utmost importance in 
tracing its progress, I endeavored to get an accurate record of the 
tax returns of Harris County, hoping to find in the assessment 

6 This was the eldest son of General Lorenzo de Zavala, who remained 
in Texas several years after the Revolution, and eventually removed to 
Yucatan. 

7 James Reilly represented the Republic of Texas at Washington, and 
during Buchanan's administration was appointed minister from the 
United States to Russia. He was killed while in command of his regi- 
ment, C. S. A., at the battle of Franklin, Louisiana, in 1862. 

8 J. W. Henderson was Lieutenant Governor when Governor Peter Hans- 
boro Bell was elected to congress in 1853, and served as Governor during 
the remainder of his term of office. 



Harris County, 1822-1 81$ 49 

rolls items that would be of interest. But, they were not accessible, 
having been stored in the old jail at the time the new court house 
was under construction. I then applied to the comptroller's office 
at Austin, and was told that the records sought for, were there, 
but upon investigation I learned that they were in a bad condi- 
tion, being not only yellow from age, but that insects had ravaged 
among their figures, and they could only be studied and satis- 
factorily deciphered by the aid of a magnifying glass. Under 
these adverse conditions, I have been unable to do more than 
approximate the financial status of the county, during the nine 
years of its corporate existence as a part of the Eepublic of Texas, 
and have culled from the mutilated data a few items which are 
here presented: 

In the treasury department, office of the commissioner of reve- 
nue, is the sworn statement of John W. Moore, first Sheriff of 
Harris County, to the effect that "the amount of nine thousand 
six hundred and forty two 44/100 dollars is all the taxes collected 
by me for the year 1837." This was sworn to and subscribed be- 
fore E. L. Stickney, acting commissioner of revenue at Austin, on 
August 13, 1840 — a fair showing for a new county in a country 
just emerging from revolution. A steady rise in values continued 
until the crest of prosperity was reached in 1841, when official 
returns showed the total amount of $12,218.45 assessed. But the 
next year the curve of decline was so sharp as to indicate a panic, 
and such there really was. The two Mexican invasions of that 
year necessitated a call "to arms," and the able-bodied men of the 
county again went into the field in defense of Texas. It is not 
surprising to find that the list of taxable property handed in for 
assessment amounted to but little in excess of one-fourth of that 
of the previous year, to be exact, the small sum of $3,116. 40. 9 

In this assessment were included 1,039,239 acres of land valued 
at $789,515, 1068 town lots at $279,818. Among the assessed 
property were 287 negroes over ten years old, and 151 under that 
age; 1 stud horse, 373 work horses, $300.00 at interest, 5779 head 
of cattle, 9 pleasure carriages, 19 wooden clocks, 3 metal clocks, 
17 silver watches and 21 gold watches. 

The generally disturbed condition of the whole country on ac- 

9 The report was made by W. R. Baker, Chief Clerk, Harris County, and 
Assessor, before A. P. Thompson, Chief Justice, on November 30, 1842. 



50 Harris County, 1822-181^5 

count of actual invasion, the consequent depreciation of the cur- 
rency of the Kepublic, and the removal of the capital from Harris 
County combined to create severe financial depression from which 
there was slow recovery. Eecords during the years intervening 
between this time and annexation, instead of showing an advance 
in values, indicate a downward tendency, which continued until 
annexation was an assured certainty. 

The student of history who reviews the phases of life in this 
county during the Eepublic, finds much of interest, not in the suc- 
cess that attended the efforts put forth, for there was slight re- 
ward, but in the unswerving faith of those who had settled here 
and determined to stay, come weal or woe. In no respect was this 
quality of the citizenship more signally displayed than in the build- 
ing up of its chief city, named in honor of Sam Houston, the 
commander in chief of the Texan army, the hero of San Jacinto. 



Harris County, 1822-1845 51 



IV. The Beginnings of Houston 

The town site of Harrisburg at the junction of Buffalo and 
Bray's Bayous offers so pleasing a view, its facilities for naviga- 
tion and drainage are so superior, by comparison, that the ques- 
tion is often asked, why the chief t?ity of the county was not built 
there instead of at Houston. The following statement tells briefly 
the chief causes for the establishment of a city at a point which 
offered no natural advantages, and whose successful upbuilding 
was long regarded as extremely problematical. 

Notwithstanding the litigation over the estate of John B. Har- 
ris, still pending in the courts when the revolution broke out, the 
town of Harrisburg was flourishing at that time. The additional 
prominence given to it by the Provisional Government of the Be- 
public of Texas in making it the seat of government, for a few 
weeks before the battle of San Jacinto, contributed to its destruc- 
tion. Santa Anna, foiled in his attempt to capture the Texas 
cabinet, who had their headquarters at the home of Mrs. Jane 
Harris, avenged himself upon the town by setting fire to every 
house, whose owners had fled when the Government, thanks to a 
timely warning retreated to New Washington. 1 

The destruction of Harrisburg was so complete and the prob- 
ability of a final settlement of the lawsuit which involved the 
title to its land so remote, that the idea of founding a new town 
in its vicinity on Buffalo Bayou immediately took form in the 
minds of two enterprising New Yorkers, Augustus C. and John 
K. Allen, who had been living for several years at Nacogdoches. 
They lost no time in taking steps toward the purchase of a tract 
of land on the Bayou, five miles north of Harrisburg, where they 
laid off a town and called it Houston, in honor of the victorious 

x Tlie only house spared by the Mexicans stood on the edge of the prairie 
about one-eighth of a mile south of the present intersection of the Gal- 
veston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Railroad track with that of the Gal- 
veston, Houston & Henderson. It was known to the old settlers as the 
"Farmer house," and to its friendly shelter Mrs. Jane Harris repaired, 
when, returning after the battle of San Jacinto, she found here the only 
vestige of the lately thriving town. 



52 Harris County, 1822-181+5 

General. News of the projected town spread rapidly, many peo- 
ple were homeless, and they flocked thither, especially from Bra- 
zoria and Harris Counties. In fact, it became a town of tents 
and clapboards before the Aliens had purchased the land. 2 It 
was located on an original grant from Mexico to John Austin, 
dated July 20, 1824, and was inherited by his widow, Elizabeth E. 
Austin, who became the wife of T. F. L. Parrott. "In August, 
1836, Messrs. A. C. and J. K. Allen bought of Mrs. T. F. L, Par- 
rott the south half of the lower of the two leagues granted to 
John Austin, near the head of tide water on Buffalo Bayou. The 
deed is dated August 26, 1836, the consideration expressed, five 
thousand dollars. It declares, after the peculiar manner of the 
deeds of that day, 'that the above price is the just value, and 
should it be hereafter worth more, she makes a donation of the 
excess to the purchases be it more or less.' It was recorded in 
Harrisburg County record of deeds, November 8, 1837. " 3 The 
deed on record from the Mexican Government to John Austin 
(1824) mentions the occupancy of a part of the league by George 
Eobinson, another first settler, of whom little is known. 

By the time the first congress of the Republic assembled at 
Columbia, in October, 1836, the Aliens were prepared to offer 
sufficient inducements to the government, not only to secure for 
the new town the title of capital of the Republic, but also to make 
it the county seat of Harrisburg, afterwards Harris, County. 

The first map of Houston seems to have been made by G. and 
T. H. Borden, and was used for advertising the new city. It was 
announced in the Telegraph and Texas Register of November 19, 
1836, that it could be seen in the Senate chamber at Columbia. 
A lithograph copy of it, which was the property of Robert Wilson, 
is made a part of this history, and the newspaper clipping at- 
tached and forming a part of it shows that advertising methods 
were, at that date, fully up to the present standard of the most 
enterprising real estate agents. 4 

2 See "Reminiscences of Mrs. Dilue Harris," The Quarterly, IV, 182. 

3 Burke's Texas Almanac for 1879, p. 83. 

4 This advertisement formed a part of the first map of the city of Houston : 

THE CITY OF HOUSTON. 
"Situated at the head of navigation on the West bank of the Buffalo 
Bayou, is now for the first time brought to public notice, because, until 



52 Harris County, 1822-181^5 

General. News of the projected town spread rapidly, many peo- 
ple were homeless, and they flocked thither, especially from Bra- 
zoria and Harris Counties. In fact, it became a town of tents 
and clapboards before the Aliens had purchased the land. 2 It 
was located on an original grant from Mexico to John Austin, 
dated July 20, 1824, and was inherited by his widow, Elizabeth E. 
Austin, who became the wife of T. F. L. Parrott. "In August, 
1836, Messrs. A. C. and J. K. Allen bought of Mrs. T. F. L, Par- 
rott the south half of the lower of the two leagues granted to 
John Austin, near the head of tide water on Buffalo Bayou. The 
deed is dated August 26, 1836, the consideration expressed, five 
thousand dollars. It declares, after the peculiar manner of the 
deeds of that day, 'that the above price is the just value, and 
should it be hereafter worth more, she makes a donation of the 
excess to the purchases be it more or less.' It was recorded in 
Harrisburg County record of deeds, November 8, 183 7. " 3 The 
deed on record from the Mexican Government to John Austin 
(1824) mentions the occupancy of a part of the league by George 
Robinson, another first settler, of whom little is known. 

By the time the first congress of the Republic assembled at 
Columbia, in October, 1836, the Aliens were prepared to offer 
sufficient inducements to the government, not only to secure for 
the new town the title of capital of the Republic, but also to make 
it the county seat of Harrisburg, afterwards Harris, County. 

The first map of Houston seems to have been made by G. and 
T. H. Borden, aud was used for advertising the new city. It was 
announced in the Telegraph and Texas Register of November 19, 
1836, that it could be seen in the Senate chamber at Columbia. 
A lithograph copy of it, which was the property of Robert Wilson, 
is made a part of this history, and the newspaper clipping at- 
tached and forming a part of it shows that advertising methods 
were, at that date, fully up to the present standard of the most 
enterprising real estate agents. 4 

2 See "Reminiscences of Mrs. Dilue Harris," The Quarterly, IV, 182. 

3 Burke's Texas Almanac for 1879, p. 83. 

4 This advertisement formed a part of the first map of the city of Houston : 

THE CITY OF HOUSTON. 
"Situated at the head of navigation on the West bank of the Buffalo 
Bayou, is now for the first time brought to public notice, because, until 






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.'V OF HOUSTON, 1836. 



Harris County, 1822-18^5 53 

The first session of the congress of Texas, having adjourned on 
December, 1836. met at the newly laid out city of Houston, on 
May 5, 1837. All roads now led to Houston. Frame buildings 
sprang up almost by magic, and in an incredibly short time 
numerous stores, hotels, boarding houses, and saloons gave evi- 
dence that the town had come to stay. Among the first needs 
were a court-house and jail, and a block of ground had been set 
aside by the Aliens to serve these purposes. The contract for 
building a two story frame court-house and a log jail was awarded 
to Dr. Maurice L. Birdsall and work upon both buildings was in- 
dustriously carried on, but many obstacles were encountered, and 
the court-house had not been completed when the first term of 
court was held, in March, 1837. In fact it was scarcely more 
than begun, so the branches of some pine trees which had been 
cut down served as an assembly room for the first grand jury. 

now, the proprietors were not ready to offer it to the public, with the 
advantages of capital and improvements. 

"The City of Houston is located at a point on the river which must 
ever command the trade of the largest and richest portion of Texas. By 
reference to the map, it will be seen that the trade of San Jacinto, Spring 
Creek, New Kentucky and the Brazos, above and below Fort Bend, must 
necessarily come to this place, and will at this time warrant the employ- 
ment of at least One Million Dollars of capital, and when the rich lands 
of this country shall be settled, a trade will flow to it, making it beyond 
doubt, the great interior commercial emporium of Texas. 

"The City of Houston is distant 15 miles from the Brazos river; 30 
miles a little north of East from San Fillipe; 60 miles from Washington; 
40 miles from Lake Creek; 30 miles Southwest from New Kentucky, and 
15 miles by water and 8 or 10 by land from Harrisburg. Tide water runs 
to this place and the lowest depth of water is about six feet. Vessels 
from New Orleans or New York can sail without obstacle to this place, 
and steamboats of the largest class can run down to Galveston Island in 
8 or 10 hours, in all seasons of the year. It is but a few hours sail down 
the bay, where one may take an excursion of pleasure and enjoy the 
luxuries of fish, fowl, oysters and sea bathing. Galveston Harbor being 
the only one in which vessels drawing a large draft of water can navi- 
gate, must necessarily render the Island the great naval and commercial 
depot of the country. 

"The City of Houston must be the place where arms, ammunition and 
provisions for the government will be stored, because, situated in the very 
heart of the country, it combines security and the means of easy dis- 
tribution, and a national armory will no doubt very soon be established 
at this point. 

"There is no place in Texas more healthy, having an abundance of 
excellent spring water, and enjoying the sea breeze in all its freshness. 
No place in Texas possesses so many advantages for building, having 
Pine, Ash, Cedar and Oak in inexhaustible quantities; also the tall and 
beautiful Magnolia grows in abundance. In the vicinity are fine quarries 
of stone. 

"Nature appears to have designated this place for the future seat of 



54 Harris County, 1822-18If5 

The City of Houston was originally laid off entirely on the 
South side of Buffalo Bayou, near its junction with White Oak. 
As shown by the first map, a space averaging one hundred feet in 
width along the Bayou bank was designated Water Street. The 
streets running from Northwest to Southeast were as nearly par- 
allel with the banks of the stream as its sinuous course would per- 
mit, and were named respectively, Commerce, Franklin, Congress, 
Preston and Prairie; bisecting streets were named Brazos, Smith, 
Louisiana, Milam, Travis, Main, Fannin, San Jacinto, Carolina, 
Austin and Lamar. These completed the limits of the City on 
the date its projectors and owners obtained the votes of Congress 
necessary to make it the temporary seat of government. 

These first street names show that the city had its birth just 
after the struggle for independence, and that its founders were 
neither unmindful of the sacrifice of life within the bounds of 
Texas, nor of the noble spirits in the States, who, with counsel 
and money aided the cause and contributed to its success. Their 
names were household words. Every body knew that Senator W. 
C. Preston of South Carolina was one of the best friends Texas 
had, and it was fitting that not only his own name, but that of his 
State, should be commemorated, in the capital of the Republic. 

A later map bore the name of Alcee La Branche, Charge d' 
affaires from the United States. He was very popular, and the 
street that had first been called Lamar was changed to La Branche, 
and is so called today. As the influence of Lamar was thrown in 

Government. It is handsome and beautifully elevated, salubrious and 
well watered, and now in the very heart or center of population, and will 
be so for a length of time to come. It combines two important advan- 
tages : a communication with the coast and foreign countries, and with 
the different portions of the Republic. As the country shall improve rail- 
roads will become in use, and will be extended from this point to the 
Brazos, and up the same, also from this up to the head waters of San 
Jacinto, embracing that rich country, and in a few years the whole trade 
of the upper Brazos will make its way into Galveston Bay through this 
channel. 

"Preparations are now making to erect a water Saw Mill, and a large 
Public House for accommodation, will soon be opened. Steamboats now 
run in this river, and will in a short time commence running regularly 
to the Island. The proprietors offer the lots for sale on moderate terms 
to those who desire to improve them, and invite the public to examine 
for themselves. 

"A. C. Allen for A. C. Allen and J. K. Allen." 

"N. B. Since the above has been in press we have learned that Houston 
has become the seat of Government." 



Harris County, 1822-181+5 55 

favor of the location of the capital at Austin, it is well known 
that he was not a favorite in the city of Houston. However, as 
the city grew, his name was again placed on its enlarged map, to 
designate one of its chief streets. Joseph Tucker Crawford, who 
visited Texas in 1837 to report on the condition of the country for 
Great Britain, 5 was popular with the citizens of Houston, and 
the second map of the town shows his name on one of the streets. 

It was evidently the first intention to locate the government 
buildings on the block marked "Congress Square" and the ad- 
joining unmarked block, shown on the map as lying between Con- 
gress and Prairie streets, and bounded on one side by Travis and 
on the ether by Milam. Besides the Borden map there were others 
made and used by the Aliens in disposing of the townsite, and 
several different plans seem to have been devised for the location 
of the Capitol building, which were not adopted. The National 
Building was to occupy the center of four city blocks, and the 
broad avenue leading to it was Capitol Avenue. Circumstances, of 
whose detail we have no record, determined upon another location 
for the Capitol. 

Governor F. K. Lubbock, in his memoir, Six Decades in Texas, 
says, 

The Aliens had undertaken to provide a capitol building for 
Houston, but fearing they might not have it ready for the meet- 
ing of congress on the first of May, erected on Main Street a one 
story building covering the front of an entire block. At one 
corner of the block a large room was constructed for the Senate, 
and on the other corner a larger one for the House of Representa- 
tives, and the space between partitioned off into rooms for the 
department offices. Col. Thos. W. Ward was the Capitol Con- 
tractor under the Aliens. 

This crude substitute for the capitol building was soon super- 
seded by a two story structure covering about two and one-half 
lots on the northwest corner of Main Street and Texas Avenue, 
which was built for the Aliens by Thomas W. Ward, of lumber 
brought from Maine. The Eepublic of Texas paid a yearly rental 
of $5000, beginning the twenty-fifth day of September, 1837. 6 

5 See The Quarterly, XV, 202 ff. 

"After thfe removal of the capital to Austin in 1839, this building was 
converted into a hotel and was long known as the "Old Capitol." Several 
pictures of the building made while it served this purpose have been pre- 



56 Harris County, 1822-181^5 

The presence of State officials, of ministers and other repre- 
sentatives from foreign countries invested the place with an im- 
portance out of harmony with its general character and primitive 
environment. 

The need for a supply of drinking water for the large number 
of people who frequented the capital was keenly felt. One of the 
first acts of Congress, approved December 18, 1837, authorized 
F. E. Lubbock to procure cisterns for the use of the capitol build- 
ing, to contain 10,000 gallons. On December 15, 1838, a meet- 
ing of citizens was held to organize the Houston Water Works 
Company, Beauchamps Springs on White Oak Bayou to furnish 
the supply. The water of these Springs, about two miles distant, 
was considered pure, and as the wooden tanks, attached to the 
dwellings and other houses, did not hold sufficient rain water, this 
water was sold by the gallon and carted about town. The Water 
Works Company, so far as records show, did not progress farther 
than the meeting, and the election of Wm. Lawrence as Chairman 
and A. F. Woodward, Secretary. It was more than forty years 
after this date that a waterworks company became a real factor 
among Houston enterprises. 

In the founding of the city much stress had been laid upon 
its being at the head of navigation, and its citizens from the be- 
ginning strove faithfully to make this true. They fully realized 
that it would require great efforts, and the ball then set in motion 
has not ceased to roll with increasing momentum up to the present 
time. Harrisburg had heretofore been regarded as the head of 
navigation on Buffalo Bayou, and it required a great deal of labor 
and time, expended in cutting away logs, brush and trees, before a 
yawl boat could be rowed up to Houston. Four days were con- 
sumed in its passage from Harrisburg to that city. On January 
26, 1837, the first steamboat, called the Laura, Thomas Grxanger, 

served; it remained practically unchanged for many years, except for 
additions at the back. In 1882 the wooden structure was entirely demol- 
ished and A. Groesbeek erected on its site a handsome brick hostelry, and 
named it the "New Capitol Hotel." This eventually passed into the hands 
of Wm. M. Rice, and as part of the property bequeathed by him to the 
Rice Institute, was, through its Board of Managers, replaced by a splendid 
building, eighteen stories high, called the "Rice Hotel." Thus did the 
best known landmark of Houston lose its historic title, and receive in its 
stead that of an old citizen, who laid the foundation of his fortune in the 
first years of its settlement. 



Harris County, 1822-1845 57 

Captain, landed at Houston, and on April 21, of the same year, 
the first sailing vessel, the Rolla, arrived, just in time for many 
of the passengers to attend there, the first anniversary ball of the 
battle of San Jacinto. Navigation between Harrisburg and Hous- 
ton was always extremely difficult, and on that account many 
people believed that it would be impossible to build a town at 
Houston. 

As early as May, 1839, The Morning Star mentions the names 
of the committee which had been appointed to make improve- 
ments in Buffalo Bayou, — J. D. Andrews, President; William M. 
Bronaugh, Secretary; Henry Kesler, William Pierpont, William 
M. Cook and George Allen, committee. It is probable that the 
work consisted mostly in cutting away the branches and dense 
foliage of magnolia and other trees which overhung the stream. 

The first two years in the life of Houston were marked by great 
activity in the organization of societies of various kinds. There 
were grave minds among the first settlers, as evidenced by the ex- 
istence of a Philosophical Society before the close of the first 
year. The original constitution of this society was in the posses- 
sion of Mrs. Jane Gray, widow of Judge Peter W. Gray, and was 
read by her at the celebration of Texas Independence Day held 
at my home, March 2, 1892. Unfortunately this interesting docu- 
ment, embracing also the names of the first members, was soon 
afterwards lost or misplaced by its owner. 7 

As in most early settlements of the South and West, the love 
of horses and horse racing held sway in Harris County. Old set- 
tlers have told that meetings in neighborhoods for this sport would 
hold for several days; there would be races by day and dances by 
night. While the aspiring new city had a Philosophical Society 
in its first year, the desire of the sporting citizens for a regularly 
organized society for the proper conduct of "the races" was re- 
corded in the next. On October 31, 1838, the Jockey Club came 
into existence, and for many years the newspapers containing 
notices of the races under its management formed a feature of 
interest as absorbing to the community as are the records of base 
ball today. 

7 In the Houston Post of March 3, 1893, Mrs. A. H. Mohl's report of the 
celebration mentioned, gives the names of some members of the Philo- 
sophical Society. 



58 Harris County, 1822-181^5 

Histories of the churches of Houston show that several con- 
gregations of different denominations were formed in 1838. A 
tablet on the inside of the front wall of Christ Church (Episco- 
pal), corner of Texas Avenue and Fannin Street bears this let- 
tering : 

"In memory of the First Vestry of Christ Church, elected April 
1, 1838. Wm. F. Gray, Senior Warden; E. S. Perkins, Junior 
Warden; D. W. C. Harris, Clerk. 

VESTRYMEN" 

Geo. Allen, Memucan Hunt, Todd Eobinson, John D. Andrews, 
Charles Kessler, James Webb, John Birdsall, Wm. Pierpont, A. 
F. Woodward." 

While Chaplain of the Senate 1837-1838, Eev. Littleton Fowler 
(Methodist) preached for the citizens, and obtained from A. C. 
Allen a deed to half a block of ground on Texas Avenue, on which 
was afterward built the first Methodist Church, called Shearn 
Church, in honor of Charles Shearn, a prominent citizen and lead- 
ing member. 

Eev. W. Y. Allen of the Presbyterian Church arrived at Hous- 
ton on March 31, 1838, and bore an important part in building 
up a Presbyterian congregation, and in organizing a Sunday School 
and Bible Society. Newspaper records show that the Bible Society 
had among its officers citizens occupying high positions in the 
State and County. 

The members of the Baptist Church held regular meetings, and 
had advanced so far, on August 25, 1838, as to procure a bell, 
which, it was announced, would ring at the proper time for as- 
sembling. 

The Eoman Catholics were ministered to by two Missionary 
priests, Father Tim on and Father Odin, who were sent out from 
the Lazarus House of St. Louis, Missouri. 

The religious services of the Protestant denominations were held 
for several years, sometimes in the Senate chamber and often in 
the court-house. 

The first temperance society of which there is any record in 
Texas was organized at the capitol on February 20, 1839. Speeches 



Harris County, 1822-18^5 59 

were made by many prominent citizens, and General Houston made 
a strong argument in favor of temperance. 

Meantime the carpenters, whose services were in great demand, 
united, and established a bill of prices for work; they organized as 
"Master Carpenters," in February of the same year, and their ex- 
ample was soon followed by the printers, who formed the Texas 
Typographical Association. 

Beside these evidences of progressive organization, which sig- 
nalized the momentous year of 1839, Houston could boast of a 
Fire Company and Fire Engine No. 1 ; a Board of Health, and a 
corps of City Hospital Surgeons; merchants, who advertised to 
have constantly on hand a supply of ice (although it was brought 
by sailing vessels form New England), and others who had schoon- 
ers ready to carry passengers or freight from Houston to New 
York. There was "A Young Men's Society" which met in the 
Senate chamber, and debated such questions as, "Ought duelling 
to be punished as a Capital Crime?" 8 There was a dancing and 
waltzing acamedy, where the latest dances from New York were 
taught, a fancy bakery on Main Street, where fine cakes were 
made and sold. Select military balls were given on the anniver- 
sary of the battle of San Jacinto, when only the officers of the 
army and navy, their families, with others specially invited, were 
allowed to be present. Public dinners, given to distinguished visit- 
ers, whom business or curiosity called to the capital, were marked 
by after dinner speeches of rhetorical merit worthy to rival those 
on similar occasions in older and more pretentious cities. 

The cause of education was represented by several private 
schools, but was chiefly centered in the "Houston City School," 
conducted on broad lines, which made it virtually open to rich 
and poor. A tuition fee of three dollars per month was charged, 
but the children of parents unable to pay this amount were ad- 
mitted free. The course of study embraced all branches taught in 
first class academies, and its business affairs were under the man- 
agement of a school committee. 

There was, however, one serious drawback to improvement, and 
the increase of population in Houston, which was lightly touched 
upon by the newspapers of that day, and which limited knowledge 

*The Morning Star, June 4, 1839. 



60 Harris County, 1822-181^5 

of sanitary laws rendered the people powerless to prevent, namely : 
the almost yearly prevalence of yellow fever. This dread disease, 
in some years, literally decimated the population, and accounts in 
large measure for the slow growth of the city at this period, and 
for many years afterward. There were no professional, or trained 
nurses, and kind hearted residents forgot all selfish interests, 
turned their homes into hospitals for afflicted friends, and, in 
many cases for strangers, and devoted themselves to the needs of 
the sick. Details of countless instances of Christian devotion, well 
known to old citizens, would fill volumes illustrating the large 
hearted character of Houston's first settlers. The very name 
"yellow fever" carried the suggestion of mortality, and was not 
used by the press, when it could be avoided, and never until the 
disease was known to be raging with great virulence. The fall 
of 1839 witnessed a very fatal epidemic of this plague. 

Houston had made steady advances during its two years as 
capital of the Republic. When this honor, the source of its dis- 
tinction, and in large measure of its prosperity, was withdrawn, 
a cloud of gloom gathered and spread. Congress, in 1839, decreed 
that Austin should henceforth be the capital. After this law went 
into effect, and the removal of the archives took place, Houston 
had the air of a deserted town. A census, taken a short time be- 
fore, stated that the resident population was 2073, — males 1620, 
females 453 — amount of property assessed $2,405,865. The pros- 
perity then existing was shown by the fact that there were two 
theatres, several hotels and boarding houses, to say nothing of 
business houses, and five steamboats were plying regularly between 
Houston and Galveston. It was the largest town in Texas, and its 
citizens were of a character to overcome obstacles. However, dur- 
ing the period of depression following the removal of the capital, 
some of them, recognizing the superior natural advantage of Har- 
risburg (viz: good navigation), removed thither. The lawsuit 
which had been pending between the Harrises and Wilsons had 
been settled by compromise, and the property owners felt that, if 
a railroad could be built to the Brazos, the facilities for shipping 
at Harrisburg would at once build up the town. Several leading 
families devoted themselves to this enterprise, and moved from 
Houston to Harrisburg. A sharp rivalry sprang up between the 
towns, which were only five miles apart in a straight line, though 



Harris County, 1822-1845 61 

the many curvings of the Bayou more than doubled the distance 
by water. The idea, of railroad transportation from the head of 
navigation to the rich cotton lands of the Brazos opened a vista of 
future prosperity, and resulted in the initial railway enterprise of 
Texas, the Harrisburg and Brazos Railroad, which was projected 
in 1839, and actually begun early in 1840. A contract for rail- 
road ties was entered into between A. Briscoe, proprietor of the 
railroad, and Maurice L. Bird sail, on the 28th day of of February, 
1840. 9 One of the provisions of the contract shows the unsettled 
state of the country. It was expressly stated "that, should the 
country be invaded by a foreign foe, from the time that said foe 
shall enter the limits of the Republic till they shall depart be- 
yond said limits, all obligations of either party by this contract 
shall be suspended, and shall commence again on the departure of 
said enemy/' Attached to the contract are receipts issued to Ely 
and Ager, subcontractors at different times, in amounts of one 
hundred and fifty dollars each, cash payment, in Texas promissory 
notes. Some of the receipts are dated May 8, 1840. A consider- 
able number of the ties contracted for were delivered along the 
graded road-bed, which extended for about two miles out from 
Harrisburg, toward the Brazos River. The grades were still to be 
seen within the memory of the writer. Handsome certificates of 
stock were printed, and are in my possession, relics of the first 
railroad enterprise in Texas. 

A paper marked, "California Railroad" in the papers of A. 
Briscoe, offers a complete plan for the building of a railroad to 
San Diego on the Pacific Coast. The line proposed, was to go by 

9 Birdsall agreed, "to take from the woods and deliver within thirty feet 
of the line of said railroad three thousand pieces of post oak or cedar 
timber, in a sound state, seven feet in length, clear of the chip or kerf, 
and from eight to twelve inches in diameter, hewn straight on one side, 
and that said timber shall be deposited five sticks or pieces to every 
twenty-five feet of the road; also that five hundred pieces shall be delivered 
within one month from the first day of March of the current year, and 
that the remaining twenty-five hundred shall be delivered within four 
months thereafter, at the discretion of the said Birdsall." Birdsall was 
to receive payment of fifty cents lawful money or its equivalent in prom- 
issory notes of the government, for each piece of timber so delivered. 
Among other provisions of the contract, was one that Birdsall should 
receive certificates of railroad stock for any balance due him after the 
payment of all expense incurred by him had been met. Certificates of 
stock were to be issued when the road should be vested in a chartered 
company, or when it should be completed to the Brazos timber. 



62 Harris County, 1822-181^5 

the way of Richmond, to Prairieville, Fayetteville, through Bock 
Island, through Washington County to Austin ; thence to El Paso, 
by the most direct route. The practicability of this route was 
largely based upon a report made by Major Neighbors, and other 
immigrants. It was also urged as possessing advantages over any 
other, because work could be carried on at all seasons of the year, 
not having to lie by for snow and cold weather. 

The plans for selling town lots as the road progressed was one 
of the schemes for raising revenue. And but for the unsettled 
condition of the country due to threatened invasion, this initial 
railroad to the Pacific might have taken permanent form. 10 This 
vision became a reality with the completion of the Southern 
Pacific in 1883. 

But, those citizens of Houston who had invested all their for- 
tunes, however small, in the future of that place, determined also 
to have a railroad to the cotton fields. As early as April 25, 
1839, The Houston and Brazos railroad, with A. C. Allen as presi- 
dent of the company, appeared from time to time in the adver- 
tising columns of the Morning Star. It was designed to run via 
Brazos City to Austin, and notices over the signature of James S. 

™The Morning Stw, Friday, March 20, 1840, contains a report of the 
surveyor of this pioneer railroad, also the report of a committee that had 
been appointed to select the route. The report is signed by Stephen Rich- 
ardson and Wm. P. Harris, committee, and by A. Briscoe, Trustee for 
Jacob Rothans, Engineer, Harrisburg, March 18, 1840, with the request 
that, the "Galveston Civilian and Richmond Telescope will copy and for- 
ward account." 

About one year afterwards the same parties were operating under the 
charter of the Harrisburg Railroad and Trading Company. Its Board of 
Directors was A. Hodge, Stephen Richardson, Andrew Briscoe, Robert Wil- 
son and D. W. C. Harris. They organized by electing A. Briscoe Presi- 
dent pro tern., Lewis B. Harris, Secretary pro tern., and John P. Borden, 
Treasurer pro tern. Subscription books were opened at Harrisburg by 
Stephen Richardson and D. W. C. Harris, at Galveston by John S. Sydnor 
and A. M. Jackson, and at Fort Bend by John P. Borden and James B. 
Miller. 

The failure of the first attempt at railroad building did not dishearten 
the people of Harrisburg, and after annexation gave assurance of the 
safety of investments in Texas, largely through the efforts of General 
Sidney Sherman, one of its citizens, they began to enlist the interest of 
Boston capitalists. By this means the first railroad built in the State, 
The Buffalo Bayou, Brazos, and Colorado Railroad, was chartered Feb- 
ruary 19, 1850, and the company organized June 1, 1850. Construction 
went, forward steadily and in a few years cotton was transported by rail 
from the Brazos plantations to the wharf at Harrisburg — forming a large 
part of Texas commerce. For a more extended account of this railroad 
see The Quarterly, VII, 279. 



Harris County, 1822-1845 63 

McGahey, who had contracted to grade ten miles of road, were 
inserted occasionally in the papers, up to April, 1842. Whether 
any work was actually done on this road is not known. 

The city of Galveston having been incorporated, February 5, 
1840, an act requiring the postmaster general to contract for hav- 
ing the mail carried twice a. week between Houston and Galves- 
ton, was passed by the third Congress and approved by President 
Lamar on the same date, February 5, 1840. Soon after this, reg- 
ular mail packets began running between Houston and Galveston; 
the appointed hour for leaving Houston was 10 a. m. The boat 
was expected to spend one day of twenty-four hours in going, and 
the next in returning. The steamboat Albert Gallatin, Captain 
Sterrett, and the Dayton, Captain S. B. Eves, were among those 
early packets, which greatly promoted the business interests, and 
the comfort of the traveling public. They afforded the quickest 
means of transportation; yet, the shallow waters on Eedfish and 
Clopper's Bars obstructed navigation in the bay, so that, during 
the prevalence of northers, boats were often obliged to await a 
change in the weather, to avoid being stranded for many days on 
these bars. 

Weekly mails had been received by carrier from Austin since soon 
after the establishment of the seat of government there; western 
mails via Richmond, Columbia, Brazoria, Columbus, Matagorda, 
etc., eastern, via Montgomery, Washington, Nacogdoches, San 
Augustine and Eed River County; those to the United States and 
Europe were via Galveston by steam packets, according to the days 
of their arrival and departure. It was occasionally noted in the 
Houston press at this time that, "nearly a month had elapsed 
since the receipt of mail from the United States," and many let- 
ters and important documents were conveyed by private hands or 
special messengers. 

A few spasmodic efforts were made to induce immigration. One 
of these, by which the property holders of Harrisburg again sought 
to build up their town and its environs was by the introduction of 
a French colony under the auspices of Snider de Pellegrini. 11 He 

"Papers of the Harrisburg Town Company record that, on July 23, 1842, 
in the city of Galveston an agreement was entered into between "M. Snider 
Pellegrini, Knight of the Great Cross of the Order of Jerusalem, Director 
of a society of Colonization established in France, and of which the central 
office is in Paris, and residing now at Galveston, Texas, on the one part, 



64 Harris Comity, 1822-184-5 

agreed to bring in French immigrants, establish a large bank, 
warehouse, and store, import merchandise from France, and set- 
tle the town and adjoining lands with thrifty Frenchmen. The 
scheme promised well. The laws of Texas allowed free importa- 
tion of French wines, etc. Pellegrini built an immense ware- 
house at Harrisburg. In it he gave a grand ball, at which choice 
wines and costly French confections were served. Preparations 
were made for furnishing the immigrants with lands, on which 
to establish vineyards, as in France. But immigrants did not 
come in large numbers, and most of those who availed themselves 
of Pellegrini's inducements fell victims to malarial and other 
climatic diseases. They were unaccustomed to the hardships of 
primitive modes of life, and the brilliant enterprise having re- 
sulted in failure, its originator was denominated "a mad castle 
builder/' 

and Mr. Wm. P. Harris, one of the principal proprietors of the town of 
Harrisburg, Harris County, and residing on his farm, Harris County, 
Texas, on the other part for himself and in the name of the other pro- 
prietors of the town of Harrisburg." 

The agreement is written in both French and English; its terms are 
very liberal towards Pellegrini, ceding to him certain blocks of lots, and 
lands, the free use of timber on other lands, and all the bricks then in 
the brick kiln at Harrisburg. It further provides that, "the exclusive 
right and privilege of banking which the proprietors of the Town of Har- 
risburg may have either as a corporation or in virtue of their charter for 
the Harrisburg Railroad and Trading Company shall be given to Pelle- 
grini. One third of all the advantages which may hereafter accrue by 
virtue of said charter shall accrue to the said Pellegrini." 

"It is also agreed that two leagues of land shall be reserved in the 
vicinity of Harrisburg during five years, to be sold in lots to emigrants 
at an average of five dollars per acre, and a commission of ten per centum 
shall be paid to Mr. Pellegrini for such sales." 

Pellegrini on the other hand obligated himself "to establish at Harris- 
burg, there to remain at least five years from the date of this instrument, 
his principal commercial House, and his principal office for the issue, cir- 
culation, and redemption of his paper money. To secure the redemption 
of which he shall have one third of the amount of circulation in specie 
and an agency in New Orleans. The said Commercial House shall, after 
-the expiration of four months employ a capital of at least fifty thousand 
dollars." 

Pellegrini agreed "to direct to Harrisburg the greater part of the emi- 
grants which the Society of which he is the Director shall send to Texas." 
The last clause of the document stated that, "It is agreed that if any 
alteration shall be deemed important to the general interest to alter the 
present plan of the town of Harrisburg it shall be effected according to 
the wishes of Mr. Pellegrini, and among said alterations a water street 
of the width of sixty feet shall be made on each side of the river." 

The document is signed in duplicate by Snider de Pellegrini and Wm. P. 
Harris, and witnessed by D. W. Clinton Harris, J. S. Huttner, S. T. Leger, 
D. M. P., and Coisy. The original contract is in my possession. 



Harris County, 1822-181^5 65 

The prosperity of the country was continually interfered with 
and set back by threats of Mexican invasion; all the able bodied 
men were expected to respond at short notice, and equip them- 
selves for military campaigns of uncertain duration, while their 
business interests were neglected, and in many instances aban- 
doned. 

History has never given an adequate idea of the deadly stag- 
nation of business enterprises, in the Republic, nor of the ex- 
citement caused both within and without its borders by the Mexi- 
can occupation of San Antonio in September, 1842. The frequent 
call "to arms," sounded the death knell of many business ventures. 
Foreign promoters of immigration societies, as well as friendly 
capitalists in the United States, were wary about risking invest- 
ments where conditions were so unstable. 

The citizens of Houston had not allowed themselves to be dis- 
heartened by the loss of the seat of government. It was believed 
by many, that the location of the capital at Austin would not be 
permanent, that the authority by which it had been removed 
thither, might, in a short time, decree its return; these hopes were 
temporarily realized in 184.2, when a session of congress was again 
held at Houston. But, the practical business men did not rely 
upon such a contingency; they realized that proximity to the best 
cotton growing lands, and to water transportation, constituted the 
real basis upon which Houston could be made a city, and the great 
cotton market of Texas. With concerted action they encouraged 
business by every honorable means practised in larger cities. One 
of the first steps taken, was to obtain a charter for a chamber of 
commerce, which was done early in 1840, and the spirit of com- 
bination begun at this time was systematically followed by Hous- 
ton's business men. 12 

In 1842 the merchants offered a prize of a silver cup for the 
first five bales of cotton of that year's growth, and a gold cup for 
the first twenty thereafter. Both prizes in that year were won by 

12 The act which granted a charter for the chamber of commerce was 
passed by the first session of the Third Congress, and approved January 
28, 1840. The names of the incorporators were: Thomas M. League, 
Henry R. Allen, William D. Lee, J. Temple Doswell, T. Francis Brewer, 
George Gazley, E. Osborne, Charles J. Heddenberg, John W. Pitkin, Charles 
Kessler, E. S. Perkins, DeWitt Clinton Harris, — all merchants of the 
city of Houston. 



66 Harris County, 1822-181,5 

L. W. Groce. 13 The gold cup is still in the possession of the 
Groce family at Hempstead, Texas. It is interesting to note that 
he was a son of Jared E. Groce, one of the largest cotton planters 
of early Texas, who is said to have established a cotton gin on 
the Brazos river in 1825, the second in Texas, the first having been 
owned by John Cartwright in the "Kedlands" of East Texas. 

At this time the Masonic fraternity and the Independent Order 
of Odd Fellows were both firmly established in local lodges, and, 
besides, Houston was the seat of their grand lodges. Houston 
had its chamber of commerce, its board of health, its medical and 
surgical society, its philosophical society, a German society or- 
ganized for philanthropic purposes, its committee for the im- 
provement of navigation on Buffalo Bayou, its typographical asso- 
ciation, its crack military company, the Milam Guards, 14 and its 
newspapers endeavored to create an impression that they were lo- 
cated, not only in a real, but a very important city. 

The boat landing at the foot of Main Street was the center of 
commercial activity, which was shared by the business houses for 
two or three blocks on Main, and to a limited extent on Com- 
merce and Franklin Streets. Nearly every merchant handled cot- 
ton, hides, and peltries. Cotton was truly king. 15 It was not 
unusual to see in the newspapers proffers "to sell a likely negro 
boy or several of them for cash or cotton." Long trains of many 
yoked ox teams hauled the staple from plantations on the Brazos 
and Colorado Rivers, arid delivered it to these stores at the lower 
end of Main Street, and there awaited their return loads of mer- 
chandise for planters and settlements in the interior. Weeks were 
consumed in effecting these long hauls over bad roads. 

The cotton receipts at Houston steadily increased. A state- 
ment of the amount of cotton actually shipped from Houston from 

13 A. S. Ruthven to L. W. Groce, August 12, 1842, in Telegraph and 
Texas Register, August 14, 1842. 

14 For a sketch of Captain Joseph Daniels, organizer and first captain 
of the Milam Guards, see The Quarterly, V, 19. 

1B According to official records of cotton production in Texas, kept in the 
office of the State Department of Agriculture, the total cotton yield in 
the year 1830 (which is the first record), was 335 bales. When we note 
that the preceding year Groce had contracted to deliver to John R. Harris 
and Zeno Phillips at Harrisburg, from ninety to one hundred bales, prob- 
ably one-third of the whole cotton crop of Texas, it is evident that Harris 
County established its position as a cotton market, at a very early date. 



Harris County, 1822-18^5 67 

September 1, 1844, to August 31, 1845, shows 11,359 bales, and 
an estimate was made in November, 1845, that at least 16,000 
bales would be shipped that season. 16 Contrast these figures with 
the report from the State Department of Agriculture, furnished 
by the secretary of the cotton exchange at Houston for the cotton 
year 1912-1913, which shows shipments of 3,324,553 bales; then 
compare the first cotton contract entered into at Harrisburg in 
1829,* with the shipments of Weld and Neville, from identically 
the same spot, during the period June 1, 1912, to June 30, 1913, 
of 211,195 bales. One sees here a fulfillment of the aspirations 
of those early settlers who strove to establish on the banks of 
Buffalo Bayou one of the great cotton markets of the world. But, 
with the realization of this early dream of mercantile power, the 
second and third generations have taken the place of the first, the 
nineteenth century superseded the twentieth; to look through the 
long vista of thronging, eventful years, and see Harris County as 
it was then, presupposes a mass of historic knowledge and many a 
treasured tale of traditional lore. 

Following the newspaper records we see that previous to the 
month of November, 1845, a few large brick buildings had been 
erected, and some brick sidewalks built in the business part of the 
city of Houston, a daguerrean gallery had been opened by H. E. 
Allen on the east side of Main Street near the wharf. These 
items illustrate the small limits of the town, whose chief activities 
were near the boat landing. 

From travelers notes, and from newspaper jottings, we learn 
that, the only trade, except cotton, showing much life from 1842 
until annexation, was that of politics. Public interest in the 
affairs of the United States was centered exclusively upon the all 
absorbing topic of "annexation." The ultimate fate of Texas, 
whether she would be admitted as one of the United States, or 
continue her independence under the protectorate of England, 
or of England and France combined, was an all absorbing sub- 
ject. The recent publication of "Correspondence from the British 
Archives Concerning Texas" in The Quarterly, throws a strong 
light upon this period. Under the conditions thereby portrayed, 

16 See Telegraph and Texas Register, October 8, and November 5, 1845. 
*The Quarterly, XVIII, 201. 



6S Harris County, 1822-181^5 

one wonders, not at the lack of progress in Houston and Harris 
County, but rather that any progress at all was made anywhere in 
Texas. News of the passage of the annexation resolution by the 
United States Congress caused an immediate rise in the value of 
Texas bonds and notes, and its effect on all commercial interests 
was shared by Harris County. It was not, however, until after 
the Mexican War had brought a feeling of perfect security that 
enterprises of any magnitude were undertaken. 

On April 21, 1845, the citizens of Houston expressed their 
ardent wish for annexation by assembling at the Presbyterian 
Church, passing resolutions in its favor, and recommending "the 
several counties in the Eepublic to meet in primary assemblies to 
express their will on the subject, and to take such measures to 
accomplish the matter as they may deem most advisable." M. P. 
Norton presided over this meeting. Geo. H. Bringhurst and A. 
M. Gentry were secretaries. The committee which drafted the 
resolutions was composed of J. W. Henderson, Francis Moore, Jr., 
William McCraven, F. E. Lubbock, J. Bailey, A. Wynne, I. W. 
Brashear, T. B. J. Hadley, T. M. Bagby, William M. Eice, C. 
McAnnelly, M. T. Eodgers, M. K. Snell, H. Baldwin, S. S. Tomp- 
kins and John H. Brown. 

Harris County elected as delegates to the convention, which 
framed the constitution of 1845, Isaac W. Brashear, Alexander 
McGowan and Francis Moore, Jr. All measures necessary for the 
ratification of the terms of annexation having been complied with, 
and a date appointed for an election of officers to govern the State 
of Texas, Harris County chose P. W. Gray and J. N. 0. Smith 
members of the House of Eepresentatives, and Isaac Brashear 
State Senator. 

The following statement in regard to the number of votes cast 
at this period, undoubtedly one of absorbing interest, affords a 
very slight, uncertain basis for computing the citizenship of the 
county seat and county: "In the presidential election of 1844, 
Harris County cast 686 votes, and in the election of delegates to 
the convention of 1845, 734 votes, of which 469 were polled in 
Houston." 17 The same authority gives the following figures on 
the vote upon the adoption of the constitution framed by the con- 

17 Burke's Texas Almanac, 1879, 88-90. 



Harris County, 1822-181^5 69 

vention mentioned above, together with the question of annexa- 
tion. This vote, which was taken in Harris County on October 
13, 1845, stood "For Annexation," 324, of which 241 votes were 
cast in Houston; "Against Annexation," 50, of which 44 were 
cast in Houston; "For the Constitution," 299; "Against the Con- 
stitution," 68. The Telegraph and Texas Register states that very 
little interest was manifested, as an impression seemed to prevail 
that a large majority would be given for the Constitution and 
annexation, and many voters neglected to attend the polls. 

In the election of state officials, which took place on Decem- 
ber 15, 1845, there was much more interest. The largest vote was 
polled for the representatives. The records of the Telegraph and 
Texas Register, published a few days later, state that 995 votes 
were cast in Houston, 117 at Lynchburg, and 77 at Harrisburg 
(other voting precincts were not given), making a total of 1189 
votes. 

No official estimate of the population of the county or city 
seems to have been made until the census of the United States 
was taken in 1850, four years after Texas had been admitted to 
the Union. The county is therein accredited with 4668 popula- 
tion, of whom 2396 resided in the city of Houston, and 905 of 
the total population were negroes. When we consider that, in 
1839, a canvass to determine the number of residents in the city 
of Houston had shown that there were 2073, at that time, it is 
plain that the actual increase during these eleven "years had been 
extremely small. 

The fluctuating character of much of the population, changing 
continually as favorable or unpromising conditions arose, many 
men never staying long enough to acquire the privilege of fran- 
chise, makes the voting strength of the town or county an unfair 
criterion of the real number of people living within their pre- 
cincts. It is certain that the proportion of families was small 
when compared with the number of single men, so that an estimate 
based upon the scholastic population would not be at all applicable 
for that time. It is evident, however, that the advocates of annex- 
ation were disappointed in their expectation that an immense flow 
of immigration would immediately result from the realizaation of 
that measure. Families came, but not in large numbers. Many 
towns were planned and platted in early days which never had half 



70 Harris County, 1822-18J^5 

a dozen residents. Nearly every large landholder on the bayou and 
bay shore aspired to be the founder of a town. Among those were 
Hamilton, on Buffalo Bayou, opposite Harrisburg, which was soon 
merged into the latter place. Buffalo, near the mouth of Vince's 
Bayou, which was also short lived; Louisville, a few miles below 
Lynchburg, failing to become a town, was known as Scott's Place. 
New Washington soon took the name of its founder Colonel James 
Morgan, and is today Morgan's Point, San Leon was located at 
Edward's Point. None of these developed as their founders an- 
ticipated, but the two last named have in recent times become 
favorite summer resorts. San Jacinto was laid off on the San 
Jacinto River opposite Lynchburg, and for many years these two 
places were rivals in the business of boat building, most of the 
sailing craft and row boats being built there, and the steam boats 
were overhauled, repaired and repainted by their town workmen. 
But for the disastrous storms which submerged and destroyed their 
improvements at different times, they would be of great impor- 
tance today. 

Houston attained its position as a regularly incorporated town 
in 1837, and neglected no opportunity to assert and maintain its 
rightful claim to be a leading town. Unfortunately the original 
records of the city administration were destroyed by fires which 
consumed the market house and city hall. The files of two news- 
papers, The Telegraph and Texas Register from 1838 to 1856 (in- 
complete) and The Morning Star, April 8, 1838, to October 26, 
1844, together with a book representing much valuable research, 
called A Historical Revieiu of Southeast Texas by Hardy and 
Roberts, have been called into service for a compilation of the list 
of City officials. 18 

It seems that both Houston and Harrisburg were included in 
an act of Congress of June 5, 1837, incorporating the town of 
Nacogdoches. 10 That the citizens of Houston speedily held the 
necessary meeting for availing themselves of the powers therein 
granted is evident from the following item: "On June 22, fol- 

18 Articles in the Houston Post, June 25, 1901, contain reprints from the 
Daily Telegraph of July 9, 1876, recording the fire of the preceding day, 
and an account of the second fire which occurred June 24, 1901. 

19 Laws of the Republic of Texas, October 25, 1836, to June 12, 1837, 
pages 238-239. 



Harris County, lS22-lSJ,n 71 

lowing the passage of this act there was held a citizens meeting 
with Robert Marsh, President, and Thomas W. Ward, Secretary. 
. . . The Telegraph, September 29, 1837, gives notice of a 
special election signed by Jas. S. Holman, Mayor, to fill vacancies 
left by Hugh McCrory and Herman Kelcey, deceased." 20 No 
other city official is mentioned, but the need of a city government 
in a town which had grown almost in a night, and the brief record 
given, leaves no doubt that such existed so soon as the requisite 
authority for creating it could be carried into effect. 

On January 25, 1839, an act to incorporate the city of Hous- 
ton 21 provided for the enlargement of the city limits, for the col- 
lection of city taxes, and gave to the authorities duly elected full 
powers to regulate and control everything necessary for the con- 
venience and safety of the public. It was under this act of in- 
corporation that Francis W. Moore, who has generally been re- 
garded as the first mayor, went into office. 

Newspapers of April, 1839, give the names of city officials in 
attendance at the meeting of the council in that month as follows: 

Francis W. Moore, mayor; Asa Brigham, J. W. Moody, A. 
Ewing, W. Pierpont, Robert Miller, J. G. Welchmeyer, aldermen. 
On October 4, 1839, the following officials were given : Geo. W. 
Lively, mayor; C. J. Heddenberg, J. W. Moore, John Carlos, 
George Stevens, Thomas M. League, A. Wynne, aldermen. To 
these are added the following officials compiled from the volume 
mentioned above: D. W. Babwell, recorder; J. W. Bergen, secre- 
tary; J. H. Brown, treasurer; Thomas Stansbury, Jr., marshal; 
James Way, constable; Thomas E. Graws, market master; Isaac 
Reed, sexton; Geo. H. Bringhurst, surveyor; Cruger and Moore, 
printers. 22 

20 Hardy and Roberts, Historical Review of Southwest Texas, I, 230, 
281, 282. 

a Laws of the Republic of Texas, First Session, Third Congress, I, page 84, 

22 Hardy and Roberts, Historical Review of Southeast Texas, I, 237-238, 
gives the following list from 1840 to 1845: 

1840. — Charles Bigelow, mayor. Aldermen: First ward, H. R. Allen, 
Edmond Osborn; Second ward, William M. Carper, John Carlos; Third 
ward, George Stevens, John W. Moore; Fourth ward, F. Gerlach, A. 
Wynne. Recorder, D. W. Babwell; secretary, J. W. Bergen; treasurer, 
J. H. Brown; inspector, T. F. Graves; marshal, D. Busby; surveyor, G. W. 
Bringhurst; Constable, W. F. Moody. 

1841. — John D. Andrews, mayor. Aldermen: First ward, M. De- 
Chaumes, Barry Carraher; Second ward, Francis Moore, Jr., C. McAnelly; 



72 Harris County, 1822-1846 

Houston had three official postmasters during the period of the 
Republic of Texas. The first was Thomas M. League, the second, 
Thomas William Ward, and the third Martin K. Snell. The post- 
offices were kept at different places, at one time at the Houston 
House, a leading hotel, then in Cruger and Moore's building, de- 
scribed in old records as on Main Street opposite the White 
House. 23 

A great many families of Houston, usually reckoned among the 
first settlers, and whose names have been perpetuated by descend- 
ants, still living, did not become citizens until some years after 
the period here dealt with, and on the other hand a large propor- 
tion of those whose names are recorded in these pages left no chil- 
dren and are to the present citizenship comparatively unknown. 
Changes in population were frequent; many became discouraged 

Third ward, George Kimball, George Fisher; Fourth ward, Thomas Stans- 
bury, C. W. Buckley. Recorder, R. R. Wilkins; secretary and treasurer, 
H. Hyland; marshal, D. Busby; deputy marshal, James H. Clark; con- 
stable, H. T. Woody; wharfmaster, Charles Gerlach; marketmasters, E. H. 
Haines, Jacob Rothaus; surveyor, Charles Bowen; sexton, Michael Con- 
nelly. 

1842. — John D. Andrews, mayor. Aldermen: First ward, M. De- 
Chaumes, T. Donnellan; Second ward, Charles Shearn, A. S. Ruthven; 
Third ward, George Kimball, George Gazley; Fourth Ward, Thomas Stan- 
bury, E. S. Perkins. Recorders, John Scott, William G. Evans; secre- 
tary and treasurer, J. H. Clark; marshal, D. Busby; constable, H. T. 
Woody; marketmaster, Charles Bowman; wharfmaster, D. Wheeler; sur- 
veyor, Jacob Rothaus; sevton, Michael Connelly. 

1843. — Francis Moore, Jr., mayor. Aldermen: First ward, T. Don- 
nellan, R. P. Boyce; second ward, John Church, J. W. Schrimpf; Third 
ward, Jesse R. Randell, A. McGowan; Fourth ward, E. S. Perkins, H. 
Baldwin. Recorder, George Fisher; secretary and treasurer, John Fitz- 
gerald; marshal, D. Busby; constable, H. T. Woody; marketmaster, 
Charles Brown; surveyor, Jacob Rothaus; sexton, S. D. Staats; printer, 
James Cruger. 

1844. — Horace Baldwin, mayor. Aldermen: First ward, M. H. Shy- 
rock, R. Levenhagen; Second ward, E. B. Nichols, W. J. Hutchins; Third 
ward, J. DeCordova, A. McGowan; Fourth ward, C. R. Hopson, H. S. 
Bachelder. Recorder, Justin Castanie; marshal, James A. Young; con- 
stable, William Smith; secretary and treasurer, John Fitzgerald: market- 
master Charles Bowman; wharfmaster D. Wheeler; sexton, S. D. Staats. 

1845. — W. W. Swan, mayor. Aldermen: First ward, J. A. Harris, 
B. Carraher; Second ward, W. J. Hutchins, T. M. League; Third ward, 
J. DeCordova, B. A. Shepherd; Fourth ward, C. R. Hopson. Recorder, 
James Bailey; marshal, W. H. Smith; secretary and treasurer, John Fitz- 
gerald; marketmaster, C. Bowman; wharfmaster, D. G. Wheeler; surveyor, 
Jacob Rothaus; sexton, R. W. Ridgway. 

^The residence of the President was given this imposing title in imi- 
tation of the parent Republic's white house at Washington. 



Flams County, 182:2-1845 73 

and moved away on account of sickness or business depression, 
while fatal diseases cut off the lives of hundreds every year. 

Among the names of citizens not otherwise recorded in this 
sketch, who, in their several professions and avocations contrib- 
uted towards building up the city during the period of its infancy 
and maintaining its status until annexation gave assurance of 
future prosperity, are the following: A. C. Allen, John K. Allen, 
Samuel L. Allen, William M. Eice, F. A. Rice, Thomas William 
House, William J. Hutchins, E. B. Nichols, George H. Bringhurst, 
Benjamin Fort Smith, Francis Richard Lubbock, John Woodruff, 
Robert Wilson and J. T. I). Wilson, Charles Shearn, Henry Francis 
Fisher, George W. Kimball, Lodowick Justine Latham, Cornelius 
Ennis, Henry Whitney Fontaine, John Houston, Alexander Mc- 
Gowan, Thomas M. Bagby, Isaac Wright Brashear, H. M. De- 
Chaumes, Colonel Francis W. Johnson, Jacob Cruger, William R. 
Baker, T. B. J. Hadley, Paul Bremond, E. W. Taylor, Henry 
Sampson, Robert P. Boyce, B. A. Shepherd, Bering Brothers, 0. 
J. Cochran, H. D. Taylor, John Kuhlman, Captain John F. Ster- 
rett, Captain Frederick Wilmot Smith, James Rather, Dr. Alex- 
ander Ewing, Dr. J. E. Jaeger, Dr. Ashbel Smith, A. J. Burke, 

E. Mather, Alexander Thurston, William Fairfax Gray, and his 
sons, Peter W., William Fairfax, and A. C. Gray, Stephen F. 
Noble, Edward P. Noble, Stephen Richardson, Dr. I. S. Roberts, 
Dr. William A. Elliot, Captain Joseph Daniels, Daniel T. 
Fitchett, Dr. Francis Moore, S. P. Christian, John W. Schrimpf, 
N". T. Davis, Peter Bauman, George F. Baker, Peter Gable, Alan- 
son Taylor, John Kennedy, Burchard Miller, Dr. John L. Bryan, 
Patrick C. Jack, Horace Baldwin, Robert F. Campbell, Benjamin 

F. Tankersley, J. Shackleford, Jr., J. D. Groesbeck, Moseley 
Baker, Thorns T. Bailey, Samuel H. Frost, A. S. Ruthven, C. F. 
Duer, Joseph A. Harris, L. S. Perkins, J. F. Torrey, Newton Car- 
son, John P. Morris, N. Davis, Charles Stephens, F. W. Robert- 
son, John H. Brown, William Needham, B. Levenhagen, Colonel 
James F. Reilly, H. Runnels, J. Castanie, J. Fitzgerald, Dr. Hart- 
ridge and Dr. H. D. Cone, George Gazley, C. A. Morris, J. M. 
Robinson, J. W. Pitkin, J. W. Scott, Francis Gassiot, Thomas 
Davidson, T. R. Taylor, R. R. Wilkins, J. V. Cowling; Claude 
Nicholas Pillot came with his family to Houston in 1837, and 
lived there a short time, removing thence to Willow Creek, twenty- 



74 Harris County, 1822-181^5 

six miles to the north of the town, where he opened a farm. Mem- 
bers of his family subsequently moved to Houston, where their 
descendants now live. 

Members of the medical and surgical society in 1840 were 
William M. Carper, Robert Watson, C. Herman Jaeger, A. Ewing, 
J. Hervey Price, S. Pleasant Baskin, D. H. Leach, Fletcher Dovey, 
F. L. Lambert, E. Tucker, M. Forest, J. E. Gardener. 

Moritz Tiling in his history of the German element in Texas 
says, that "By the year 1840 Houston counted among its inhabi- 
tant more than seventy-five German families and single men/' 
The German Society of Texas organized at this time (November 
29, 1840) began with fifty-three members, viz: George Fischer, 
Theodore Miller, Henry F. Fischer, Charles Gerlach, Conrad 
Franke, Robert H. Levenhagen, Henry Levenhagen, Jacob Schroe- 
der, J. Hermann, 24 Joseph Sandman, Gottlieb Gasche, Martin 
Rumpff, William Schroeder, Gustav Erichson, Jacob Buchmann, I. 
L. Knoll, A. Jung, Emil Simmler, Friedr. Otto, Ch. Rienitz, 
Charles Baumann, Henry A. Kuykenclall, Wendelin Bock, Ulrich 
Fischer, Karl Fischer, John H. Mueller, Friedr. Schiermann, John 
Koop, Daniel Super, Joseph Ehlinger, Johann Buhn, Anton 
Brueggemann, William Ewald, Casper Gerlach, Friedr. Lemsky, 
Friedr. Barthold, K. Hermann Jaeger, Abraham Brodbeck, Johann 
Grander, Christian A. Kasting, Peter Dickmann, William Wei- 
gand. Ant. E. Spellenberg, Peter Bohl, Johann William Schrimpf, 
I. Anton Fischer, Dr. De Witt, A. Shanten, Johann Schweikert. 
Its officers were George Fischer, president; Harry Levenhagen, 
first vice-president ; Theodore Miller, second vice-president ; Henry 
F. Fischer, secretary, and John Koop, treasurer. 

Mr. Tiling has in his possession the original minutes of the first 
meeting of this society — the first German Society of Texas. Mr. 
Tiling also mentions that among the German families who arrived 
at Galveston in the brig North on Christmas day, 1839, the fam- 

24 J. Hermann was a native of Switzerland and the father of George 
Hermann, who, having accumulated a fortune here, left at his death, which 
occurred on October 20, 1914, a bequest of about five million dollars for 
the founding of a Charity Hospital for the city of Houston. He had pre- 
viously donated valuable acreage for a city park to be known as the Her- 
mann Park. Through these benefactions the name of this early emigrant 
will be forever endeared to the people of Houston. 



Harris County, 1822-18Jf5 75 

ilies of Usener, Schweikart, Habermehl, Bottler, and Karcher, and 
a single man named Schnell settled in Houston. 

The German element in Houston and Harris County has always 
been accounted a valuable asset, and one which has contributed a 
large share towards the upbuilding of the county. Some of the 
descendants of these early German settlers are still living in the 
city and are among its leading citizens. 

The foregoing chronicle of the period of small beginnings in 
Harris County would be incomplete without special mention of 
some of the distinguished citizens who dwelt on the shores of Buf- 
falo Bayou and Galveston Bay. That they should have chosen 
homes on these shores excites no surprise in the minds of those 
who knew these delightful home sites at a time when nature with 
a free hand distributed her bounties. Such a wealth of forest 
trees, magnolias, wild peach, bays, laurels, cedars and pines as 
lined the bayou banks and bay shores to the very water's edge! 
Such festoons of yellow jasmine and coral honeysuckle, binding 
in a bower of sweet perfume the flowering ash, dogwood, and 
hawthorne of the early spring time. The convenience of water 
transportation, and accessibility to the base of supplies offered a 
very practicable argument in favor of such locations, and, when 
to these are added the abundance of fish and game that were close 
at hand, it is easy to see that the first settlers chose well. 

Burnet and De Zavala dwelt near Lynchburg, where Burnet's 
Bay and Zavala's Point still preserve the identity of their homes. 
Dr. Ashbel Smith, after living for a few years at Houston, retired 
to his country place on the eastern bayshore, to "Evergreen," 
nearly opposite Morgan's Point. His distinguished service to the 
Republic of Texas in representing the government at the Courts 
of St. James and St. Cloud are well known, as are his devotion 
to the interests of the state during the whole of his long life. 
His great learning earned for him at home the deserved title 
"Sage of Evergreen," while his cultured manners and diplomatic 
talents caused him to be known abroad as the "Benjamin Franklin 
of Texas." 

At Cedar Point, 25 on the eastern shore of Galveston Bay. General 

'^Cedar Point is not within the limits of Harris County, being near the 
left bank of Cedar Bayou, the boundary between Harris and Chambers, 
but the intercourse by sail boats between all bay shore settlements was 
frequent. 



76 Harris County, 1822-181^5 

Houston passed the first year or two, after the beginning of the 
war between the States. In this quiet retreat, surrounded by his 
family, but saddened by the failures of his efforts to prevent the 
severing of the tie which bound Texas to the Union, he witnessed 
the organization of military companies, and the enlistment of his 
eldest son, under the command of his friend and neighbor, Dr. 
Ashbel Smith. His life was drawing to its close, when the family 
returned to their old home at Huntsville. 

Colonel James Morgan's home at New Washington, or Morgan's 
Point, was well improved as early as 1836. His orange groves 
were laden with ripe fruit in the fall of that year, and the even- 
ing meal of his family and guests was sometimes spread under 
their shade. 

General Sidney Sherman chose Crescent Place, which took its 
name from a curve of the shore on San Jacinto Bay, and thither 
he came with his bride within a year or two after the conclusion 
of the war of 1836. An incident, connecting their private lives 
very closely with the history of Texas, seems appropriate in this 
place. When General Sherman, then Captain of a troop of cav- 
alry, was ready to march from Kentucky to help the Texans fight 
their battle for liberty, a grand reception was given them at New- 
port, Kentucky. Ladies fair and patriots generous and chivalrous 
attended this last meeting with the gallant volunteers. A beauti- 
ful silk flag was to be presented to the company, and it was agreed 
that the lady to make the presentation should be no other than 
Miss Isabella Cox, the bride of Sidney Sherman. This banner, 
with a goddess of liberty painted on its white field, and bordered 
with gold fringe, was the only flag known to have been used on 
-the battle field of San Jacinto; and after the battle it was sent by 
the secretary of state of the Republic of Texas to Mrs. Sherman. 
Its frayed remains now rest in a glass-covered case in the State 
Library at Austin. 

Francis R. Lubbock, who served the public almost from the 
time he set foot on the shore of Texas up to the last days of his 
ninety-odd years, was one of the first residents of the city of 
Houston. A few years later, he owned and cultivated a farm 
and raised cattle on Sims' Bayou, about seven miles from Hous- 
ton, riding back and forth almost every day, while holding the 
office of district clerk. His later distinguished position as gov- 



Harris County, 1822-1845 77 

ernor of the state of Texas, and state treasurer, succeeded by serv- 
ice on the board of pardons, rounded out a stainless life devoted 
to the public good. 

Another of the early residents of Houston, who enjoyed the dis- 
tinction of serving as governor of Texas, was J. W. Henderson, 
who, having been elected lieutenant-governor, succeeded to this 
office, when Governor Bell was elected to the United States Sen- 
ate. He was a leader in the politics of his State as long as he 
lived. 
• Colonel James F. Reilly, who first won distinction as a military 
man, while Captain of the Milam Guards, was selected to repre- 
sent the Republic as charge d'affaires at Washington. The diplo- 
matic talents of this cultured gentleman so identified him with 
Texas, that, in later years, when President Buchanan wished to 
honor the State by a foreign appointment, he made Colonel Reilly 
minister from the United States to Russia. 

The names of William M. Rice, W. A. Van Alstyne, James H. 
Stevens, B. A. Shepherd and W. J. Hutchins, all merchants of the 
city of Houston before the period of annexation, are to be found 
on the board of directors of the first successful railroad built in 
Texas, The Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado. They all ac- 
cumulated fortunes; they were men of liberal views, who saw be- 
yond the boundary of their own immediate business and knew that 
combination was necessary for the enlargement and development 
of the State's resources. 

One of these, who built the nucleus of a fortune in the early 
days when Houston was a very small town, left the bulk of his 
immense estate, to be expended in building, equipping and main- 
taining The Rice Institute. This noble foundation which com- 
memorates its founder, William M. Rice, opened its doors to the 
public in October, 1912, and has begun its educational work, al- 
though several years must elapse before the completion of the 
grand pile requisite for so large and costly an institution of learn- 
ing. 

To attempt a contrast between the past and the present would 
draw me too far afield. It is apparent to all that the day of small 
things, which has been my theme, is gone. Especially in writing 
of the city of Houston, have I sought to bring forward the public 
spirit that animated "her citizens; how it prompted them from the 



78 Harris County, 1822-181+5 

very beginning to unite for the public good, how they worked to- 
gether in the midst of adverse, often most discouraging, condi- 
tions, especially after the first two years, but were always deter- 
mined to get deep water, to have a ship channel, and to make of 
Houston a great cotton market. Always believing that the future 
held the prize, they despised not the day of small things, while 
constantly striving to attain the great ones. 



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